Mumbai, March 30 (IANS) On a high after a thumping win over Australia, favourites India will aim to continue their winning momentum and seal a place in the final when they take on the West Indies in the second semi-final of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday.
After suffering a disappointing loss to New Zealand in their campaign opener, 2007 inaugural World T20 champions India came back strongly to outclass Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia to enter the semis in style. They look favourites to win the Thursday tie to secure a place in the final, scheduled at the Eden Gardens on April 3.
On the other hand, 2012 winners Windies had three successive wins against England, Sri Lanka and South Africa but suffered a huge blow after losing to minnows Afghanistan in their last group stage match.
But on Thursday, it will be a fresh start for the Darren Sammy-led side in what will be a do-or-die clash.
India on the other hand is likely to miss star Yuvraj Singh after the left-handed batsman sustained an ankle injury when setting off for a run against Australia at Mohali.
Talented batsman Manish Pandey has been called in as cover for Yuvraj. Ajinkya Rahane, who was warming the bench in the entire tournament, might be the one to fill in Yuvraj’s place.
Keeping aside Yuvraj’s injury, the hosts have quite a balanced side with swashbuckling batsman Virat Kohli in prime form.
Kohli has come up with consistent scores and match winning knocks. He has scored 184 runs in four matches in the competition.
But the worry for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team will be the lack of consistency from openers Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and middle order batsman Suresh Raina.
Despite getting good starts, the trio have thrown away their wicket at crucial junctures of the game to have their team on the backfoot.
Inclusion of Rahane will add strength to the batting line-up with all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Dhoni himself coming in lower down the order.
In terms of bowling line-up, the hosts have fared well in the tournament claiming wickets at regular intervals both at the start and at the death overs.
Leading the pace attack will be veteran Ashish Nehra, who has used his experience to good effect and also mentored young turk Jasprit Bumrah. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will aim to continue their good run.
The West Indies will be without batsman Andre Fletcher, who pulled a right hamstring during the match against Afghanistan, and has been ruled out for play. Lendl Simmons has been called up as the replacement.
But as always, the side will rely on hard-hitting and flamboyant batsman Chris Gayle to fire for them at the top.
The 36-year-old blasted an unbeaten 100 in just 48 balls to steer his side to a comfortable win against England in their campaign opener here.
Besides Gayle, the team has plenty of T20 specialist and match winners who can turn the match around single-handedly.
Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and all-rounders Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite make them a dangerous unit.
Spinners Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn, who were handy in the tournament with their variations, will aim to deliver once again for the side.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Samuel Badree.
(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at [email protected])