India - West Indies World T20 preview: Can the hosts progress to Sunday's final?

Match preview of Thursday's second World T20 semi-final between hosts India and 2012 champions the West Indies, set to take place in Mumbai.

India - West Indies World T20 preview: Can the hosts progress to Sunday's final?
Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Following England's outstanding performance in beating New Zealand in Delhi on Wednesday, both India and the West Indies will look to book their place in the final on Sunday in Kolkota.

Hosts India were buoyed over the weekend with victory over Australia, courtesy of a sensational knock from their hero Virat Kohli's 82 not out. Conversely their opponents the Windies, lost their final group game to Afghanistan. The Asian side recording their first T20 victory over a major cricketing nation. Albeit without their explosive talisman Chris Gayle, are the West Indies a spent force and are India - just like England - peaking at just the right time?

Have the 'Windies' peaked early?

After the men from the Caribbean demolished now-finalists England via a Gayle hitting masterclass, the Windies went on to beat both Sri Lanka and South Africa, before their surprise loss to the Afghans.

Chris Gayle blitzed England in the West Indies' opening game (photo:getty)
Chris Gayle blitzed England in the West Indies' opening game (photo: Getty)

Even with Gayle still carrying a slight hamstring problem, there still remains significant hitting power with the likes of Andre Fletcher hitting an unbeaten 84 versus The Lions, and contributions from Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels versus The Proteas.

Denesh Ramdin, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Carlos Brathwaite are all capable of cameos also, but if Gayle should fail in a pressure cooker situation in the Indian capital, does the batting line up have enough, even if their bowl unit does?

Men in Blue have stumbled into semis 

The group stages for India, were a mirror opposite to their opponent's form. After a sobering defeat to The Black Caps in the opening group game however, the Indians bounced back with a victory over continental and bordering rivals Pakistan, before a miraculous sporting escape to beat Bangladesh by a single run.

The game versus The Baggy Greens was a straight elimination, but when the pressure was amped up, they had enough to get over the line, mainly thanks to Kohli's sumptuous and impenetrable stand. 

Blow for India as Yuvraj ruled out

If India are to reach the final at Eden Gardens, they will have to do so without all-rounder Yuvraj Singh. Despite having a tournament top score of just 24, he took the sole wicket of Australian captain Steven Smith on Sunday and together with the trio of Hardik Pandya, Ashish Nehra and Ravi Ashwin combined to stem the flow of runs for the Aussies.

Yuvraj has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament (photo:getty)
Yuvraj has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament (photo: Getty)

Yuvraj picked up an ankle injury in the run chase but his hampered rotation of the strike with Kohli, allowed his partner at the opposite end to set a platform to attack in the final overs, as he so brilliantly did. In his place, Manish Pandey will come in. Ajinkya Rahane is also pushing for starting XI contention.

Runs set to flow in Mumbai  

At the venue where England so spectacularly beat South Africa a few weeks back, India and the West Indies will vie for a spot against them this weekend. Much of the build-up has been the battle between the big hitters. Spin is however, likely to come up against seam or at least medium pace and could be a decisive factor.

In a game where a high run chase of perhaps in excess of 200 is expected, India's bowling attack may just have the edge over their foes. The toss is sure to be a crucial one, but in any event the capital is set for an epic clash on Thursday.