The United States will get a rare taste of world-class cricket this weekend when Florida will play host to two Twenty20 internationals between the West Indies and India. It is just the third time that full international cricket matches will take place in the U.S., following on from New Zealand taking on Sri Lanka in 2010 and the West Indies going up against New Zealand two years later. But this is the first occasion that the world’s most popular team will grace U.S. soil.
India’s cricket board, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is expecting the 15,000 capacity Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale to be sold-out for the matches on Saturday and Sunday. It promises to be a lucrative venture for both India and West Indies cricket, with tickets priced from $75 up to $250. But the game’s global governing body insist it also fulfills the latest step in developing cricket in the United States.
Last year the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended the USA Cricket Association and took control of the right to sanction which events could take place in the U.S. That led to a three-match Cricket All-Stars tour last November, featuring legends of the game led by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne. And, in announcing the ICC’s approval of the series earlier this month, chief executive David Richardson explained what he hopes the U.S. will get out of matches between the sides ranked second and third in the T20I rankings.
“The ICC has approved these matches because we believe they can play a significant role in the long term development of cricket in the USA and our ongoing efforts to unify the USA cricket community,” he said.
“Having the ICC World T20 Champions playing India in Florida will undoubtedly inspire both existing and new fans and players, but perhaps more importantly, the sanction fees will be invested into the ICC’s ongoing work to lay a sustainable foundation for the development of cricket in America.”
It certainly promises to be a high-quality matchup. While the West Indies continued its struggles in Test cricket in recent weeks with a comprehensive 2-0 series defeat at home to India, they are the reigning kings in the sport’s shortest format having won the World T20 earlier this year.
However, disorder has never been far away in West Indies cricket in recent years. And it has reared its head one again just ahead of the series with India, with the man who led the team to glory in the 2016 World T20, Darren Sammy, being replaced as captain by Carlos Brathwaite. Sammy has also been excluded from the 13-man squad to travel to Florida.
The West Indies Cricket Board has insisted that the decision was based solely on performances. And, if so, there may be some method in the sudden change this time around. Sammy contributed little with the bat or ball during the World T20, while Brathwaite, despite having only ever played eight T20 internationals, stole the headlines by hitting four consecutive final-over sixes to beat England in the final. However, the decision has still sparked angry reactions among some supporters, particularly with Sammy enjoying a strong season in the Caribbean Premier League.
Along the way to the title, the West Indies beat India in the semifinals, ending its hopes of lifting the trophy on home soil and likely providing added motivation going into the two matches in Florida. After an inexperienced team was fielded in a three-match series against Zimbabwe in June, the series will mark the first time that the bulk of the squad from the World T20 will be back in action in the format for their country. After guiding his team to a 2-0 Test series win in the West Indies, Virat Kohli will revert to just batting duties as limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni takes command.
Twelve of the 14 men selected for the 20-over matches were in the Caribbean for the Test series, with the most significant player left out being Suresh Raina.
West Indies T20I Squad vs. India
Carlos Brathwaite (captain), Andre Fletcher, Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis, Jason Holder, Johnson Charles, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine
MS Dhoni (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Stuart Binny, Umesh Yadav, Virat Kohli
1st ODI: Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m. EDT
2nd ODI: Sunday, Aug. 28, 10 a.m. EDT
Ticket Info: Ticket Alternative