In Stats: Kohli’s India Start Favourites vs Hosts WI in First Test
West Indies’ poor record at home in recent series and inexperienced bowling line-up give India an advantage.
On Thursday, India will take on the West Indies in the first Test beginning at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua. This match will be the first time in more than seven months that Indian cricketers will don the white flannels in an international match. India’s last Test assignment was the home series in November-December 2015, against the then number one ranked team South Africa, which they convincingly won 3-0.
Though Virat Kohli and co will be playing far from the familiar home conditions, they still begin favourites. Here’s why.
India’s Domination of The West Indies in Recent
There was a time when the West Indies were invincible; between 1974 and 1994, they never lost a home series.
In Tests against India, the West Indies won 12 of the 16 Test series between 1948 and 2002 — losing 2 series and drawing two. How times have changed since. Starting from the series in India in October 2002, India have won five consecutive Test series against the West Indies – two played in the Caribbean islands and three others played in the Indian sub-continent.
India a Higher-ranked Side in The ICC Test Rankings
A cursory look at the ICC Test rankings explains the vast gap between the two sides. India, with 112 rating points are placed second in the ten-team chart, while West Indies with 65 rating points are at eighth. If India win the series in the West Indies, and if other results go their way, there is a definite possibility of India toppling Australia to regain the number one position in the ICC Test rankings table.
West Indies’ Uninspiring Recent Form at Home
West Indies’ recent results at home aren’t anything to inspire; in the last four Test series they’ve played at home, they’ve lost to Australia (2-0) and New Zealand (2-1), while drawing the Test series against England (1-1). The only series the West Indies have won at home recently is their 2-0 drubbing of Bangladesh in 2014.
West Indies Fielding an Inexperienced Team
The West Indies selectors named a 13-man squad for the first Test at North Sound. One look at the team and the thing that stands out is there is hardly any experience in the squad. Marlon Samuels, with 64 Test caps, is the most experienced player in the side, while Darren Bravo, with 47 Test caps, is the second-most experienced player in the West Indies side. Five other players in the squad have featured in between 10 & 27 Test matches previously, while four players have played less than 5 Test matches. The side also has two uncapped players in Miguel Cummins and Roston Chase.
In comparison, the five first-choice Indian players have all played over 30 Test matches, with Ishant Sharma being the most experienced player in the side with 68 Test caps to his name.
The difference between the two sides is especially stark in the bowling line-up. Devendra Bishoo, who has played 15 Tests over a period of five years, and is being recalled to the team, is the most-experienced bowler in the side with 55 Test scalps. In contrast, India have Ishant Sharma with a tally of 201 Test wickets, while R Ashwin, with 176 Test scalps, will expect to get closer to (or breach) the 200-wickets mark by the time the series ends.
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