India and the West Indies will face not only a change of format as their summer cricket contests continue this weekend, but a change of region. After a four-match Test series in the Caribbean, the two cricketing powers switch to the Twenty20 format and to the United States, where they will play two T20 internationals in Lauderhill, Florida.
While the West Indies have previously played at the Central Broward Regional Park, the only stadium in the U.S. certified by the International Cricket Council, it will be India’s first time playing an international in the U.S. Guaranteed huge support at what is expected to be two sell-out crowds at the 15,000-capacity venue on Saturday and Sunday, the India camp has also been impressed with the facilities they have encountered.
"Well, certainly didn't expect the facilities to be as good as what it is here,” head coach Anil Kumble said. “I had heard about Florida and this ground, but I'm very impressed with the facilities that we have seen today. It is the first time I am seeing this ground and the wickets are good, ideal probably for a T20. The practice facilities, too, are good and the outfield is fantastic. All in all, really impressed with the way facilities are here.
“From an Indian perspective, we are looking forward to these T20 games against the West Indies. It is a wonderful initiative to play in the USA and it is going to be a sell-out. We know that expats and the huge Indian diaspora want quality cricket to come to the USA. When we have played in the West Indies in the past, a lot of them have come over from USA to watch us play.”
On the pitch, India will be looking to continue its success over the West Indies from the Test series, having secured a 2-0 series win in the Caribbean. Led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India will have extra motivation for wanting to claim victory this weekend. Earlier this year, it was the West Indies that ended India’s hopes of winning the World Twenty20 on home soil at the semifinal stage.
The West Indies went on to lift the trophy with a win over England in the final to reclaim its crown as T20 cricket’s top dogs. And there will be some relief among the Caribbean side to get back to T20 after continuing its struggles in cricket’s longer format. With the return to T20 comes the presence of several experienced players who now reserve themselves for the format, including Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell.
“It’s always good to have all the senior guys back and they make things easy for me because it’s a case of them doing all the work, as they know about this format inside out, so it gives me a chance to just enjoy them freeing up themselves out there,” head coach Phil Simmons said in Florida.
“In this context it’s a case where we are world champions and it [T20] is something we have sort of made our own, similar to back in the 80s when we made Test cricket our own. We always are the team to beat in T20 cricket so from that point of view – it’s good to know that all the guys are loving playing it, but it’s also a stepping stone to one-day cricket too.”
The opening match on Saturday will be the first as captain for Carlos Brathwaite. The batsman, who scored four successive sixes in the final over to win the World T20, was appointed in place of Darren Sammy, who has also been left out of the squad.
West Indies vs. India 1st T20I
Match Time: 10 a.m. EDT
Live Stream: Yupp TV