Confident India to Take on Inexperienced Windies in the First Test
First test between India and West Indies starts on 21 July at Antigua.
A confident India, with a new coach at the helm, will seek to record a third consecutive Test series triumph on the Caribbean soil when the Virat Kohli-led side clashes with an inexperienced West Indies in the first cricket match at Antigua on 21 July. The Test will herald a new chapter in Indian cricket history as the team will take the field for the first time under new coach Anil Kumble’s guidance.
Virat’s Caribbean Test
Skipper Virat Kohli will now aim to complete a
hat-trick of Test series wins in the Caribbean, after Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni led their sides to victory in 2007 and 2011, respectively.
Also, Kohli will be hoping to win a third successive Test series, after beating Sri Lanka 2-1 away and South Africa 3-0 at home, both last year.
With two days to go, there was a green sprinkling of grass on the surface. It seemed to be nothing more than patches left to hold the pitch together for five days, and yet it could alter the Indian think-tank’s plans regarding the first-choice eleven. While 13 players had participated in each of the two tour matches, the composition used in both games indicated a five-bowler approach for the Tests.
Various members of the squad, as well as support staff, have pointed out in the build-up that even a little grass would not alter the slow nature of the wickets. Thus, it can be expected that Amit Mishra will be picked ahead of Stuart Binny, should Kohli opt for five bowlers. At the same time, it remains to be seen who will partner Ishant Sharma — a fit-again Mohammad Shami, or Umesh Yadav, who did well against both Sri Lanka and South Africa in Shami’s absence.
Selecting five bowlers also clears the way for Rohit Sharma to be benched again, with the Mumbai batsman sitting out of the second warm-up match as well. While Mishra should edge out both Rohit and Binny, it will be a huge surprise if the team management considers replacing Pujara with Rahul at number three.
Inexperienced Hosts Eye Upset
While the visitors will be worrying about a problem of plenty, West Indies will be looking at their 13-man squad for some experience. Darren Bravo (42) and Marlon Samuels (64 Tests) have played 100-plus Tests between them, but both have been beset with lack of consistency at various points in their careers.
Skipper Jason Holder will be hoping his two senior-most batsmen can put their hand up, while he looks set to pick an inexperienced batting line-up comprising Jermaine Blackwood (15 Tests) and Rajendra Chandrika (3 Tests). Blackwood was impressive in both innings of the second practice match in St. Kitts, but facing the three Indian spinners bowling in tandem during a Test should be a different prospect.
As such, much responsibility will lie on the shoulders of Bravo and Samuels, particularly the latter, who is the most capped batsman on either side. Comparing the two bowling attacks, West Indies look set to field only one spinner in Devendra Bishoo, with fast bowler Shannon Gabriel looking for support from uncapped Miguel Cummins, Carlos Brathwaite and Holder himself.
Team India: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd. Shami, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.
Team West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Leon Johnson, Shane Dowrich (wk), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Shannon Gabriel and Miguel Cummins.
(With Inputs from PTI.)
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