India vs West Indies, 3rd T20I: Chance for Iyer, Gaikwad as India look to test bench strength

KOLKATA: With the series in their bag, India will have the liberty to experiment in the third and final T20I against the West Indies here on Sunday.
With Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant given a 10-day break, the home team is set to finally include the gifted Shreyas Iyer and Ruturaj Gaikwad in the playing XI.
Under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, India secured their third successive series win with an eight-run win over the West Indies in the second T20I here on Friday.
With the T20 World Cup scheduled in less than eight months time in Australia, Rohit would look to try out new options, beginning with finding a reserve opener.
In the absence of KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan has failed to impress at the top of the order and his place could be given to the talented Gaikwad, who has been warming the bench until now.
Playing the series just after he became the most expensive buy of the IPL 2022 mega auction — he was bought back by Mumbai Indians for a staggering Rs 15.25 crore — the Jharkhand left-hander has struggled to get going.
After his anxious 42-ball 35 in the first match, Ishan could manage just two runs from 10 balls in the second game.
It remains to be seen if Rohit gives one more chance to his Mumbai Indians teammate or bring in Gaikwad.
New-look middle-order sans Kohli and Pant
With the Sri Lanka T20I series up next, it may not be a bad idea to give Ishan a longer run.
In the middle-order, Shreyas will replace Kohli, who has been given a much-needed break ahead of his landmark 100th Test.
The former India captain will miss the T20I series against Sri Lanka and return for the Tests against the islanders.
Shreyas, who was the third biggest buy at the IPL auction but could not fit into India’s T20 combination for the first two matches against the West Indies, will be the obvious choice.
Recently appointed as Kolkata Knight Riders skipper, Shreyas had played a match-winning knock during the ODI in Ahmedabad, and he would look to grab the opportunity of playing at the Eden Gardens — his new “home ground”.
Hooda, Avesh, Siraj waiting in the pipeline
Deepak Hooda also impressed after making his debut in the preceding ODI series and it remains to be seen if the big-hitting all-rounder is tried out in the T20Is.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, India have so far fielded the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel.
Both Bhuvneshwar and Patel have so far delivered the goods, especially in the second match when the former bowled a game-changing penultimate over before the rookie seamer defended 25 runs in the final over to secure a series-clinching win.
It remains to be seen whether Rohit would look to alter his bowling combination by bringing in Mohammed Siraj. The uncapped Avesh Khan, too, gives him an option.
Khan recently became the most expensive uncapped Indian player in the history of the IPL auction after being picked by Lucknow Supergiants for 10 crore.
The pacer has been in good form in the last 12 months, bagging 14 wickets in 16 matches at an impressive economy rate of 7.37 in IPL 2021.

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