The West Indies will play India in the 4th T20I on Saturday, 5th August, at the Central Broward Park Stadium Turf Ground, Florida in the USA. The match is due to begin at 10:30 am local time.
Why are matches taking place in Florida?
Staging games in Florida is a deliberate attempt to promote the game of cricket to a wider audience. The West Indies and India have played there before in front of packed crowds in South Florida, and with the USA the next big market to be “cracked” as far as cricket is concerned, from a marketing and commercial perspective, it makes a lot of sense.
Whether the players feel the same way, given that it is almost a six-hour flight from the West Indies, is less clear.
One potential fly in the ointment is that neither team is yet in a position to fly to Florida for this match, and the fifth T20I that follows, because there are members of both sides that do not yet have their visas to enter the United States.
Both teams will fly to Guyana now where they have appointments with the American Embassy, but, if for any reason visas are not granted, then alternatives are being considered, with Trinidad the most likely option.
A neutral observer, though, may wonder why this issue was not resolved much earlier.
The state of the series
India head into this match leading the series by two matches to one. The tourists had won the first match in Trinidad easily by 68 runs, but the West Indies hit back to level in Basseterre, St. Kitts with a five-wicket victory.
The third match, also in Basseterre, though, resulted in another comprehensive victory for the visitors.
Winning the toss and choosing to field first, they were set what appeared to be a challenging target, as the home side made 164/5 from their 20 overs, with opener Kyle Mayers leading the way with 73, made off only 50 balls, and featuring 4 sixes and 8 fours.
However, India made light work of their run chase, getting home with seven wickets and an over to spare. It was a significant match for Suryakumar Yadav who gave the firmest indication yet that he could be the long-term answer to who should partner Rohit Sharma when it comes to the T20I World Cup in Australia later this year.
He made 76 off only 44 balls, including 4 sixes and 8 fours of his own, and he ensured that his side were always ahead of the required rate. There was also an encouraging knock from Rishabh Pant, who has been a bit out of sorts with the bat on this tour, but made a positive contribution with an unbeaten knock of 33.
Obed McCoy, who had taken 6 – 17 on the same ground just 24 hours earlier, did not have anything like the same impact this time. He finished wicketless from his four overs which cost 34 runs.
The fourth match
Given that it is not yet certain where the match will take place, it is fruitless to predict the weather or state of the playing surface.
Avesh Khan under pressure?
One man who may be under pressure for his place in the Indian line-up is Avesh Khan. Tasked with bowling the final over in the second T20I he had fluffed his lines by bowling no-ball which relieved all the pressure his side had been able to apply. This time he was expensive, conceding 47 runs, and he was only trusted with three overs by his captain Sharma. His fourth was given to Deepak Hooda who showed how it should be done by just giving away a single.
Khan needs a good match to dispel any doubts that may be mounting.
Whilst the West Indies will be desperate to take the series to a decider, the momentum appears to be with India, who will want to ensure that the fifth game is just a dead rubber. That may give them the luxury of being to experiment with their side in that match.
Given that India have been generally the stronger team through this white-ball tour to the Caribbean – and beyond – it looks like they will be celebrating victory on Saturday night, regardless of where the match is finally played.
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