May 25 2020
India vs West Indies: Chance for India to put its pieces together
04 October 2018

The hosts will look to use the West Indies series as a dress rehearsal for the Australia tour

Asia Cup may have been conquered but, when it comes to the real deal, connoisseurs and aficionados alike have still not recovered from the setback that India suffered in England, hoping for the reversal of the tide in Australia in a few weeks. 

Sandwiched between the two tough overseas assignments is the only home Test series of the season. As a result, more than the challenge that the West Indies may pose, the two-Test series, starting on Thursday at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on the outskirts of this colourful city, is perceived as an opportunity to try out different combinations ahead of the series Down Under. 

The conditions may be way too different from those in Australia, but India, with Virat Kohli back at the helm after missing the Asia Cup due to sore back, will experiment a bit with the team combination against a side that has been lying in the bottom half of Test rankings for well over a decade now. 

One such trial was the decision to make the pruned squad of 12 players public on the eve of the match. Most ideally, the team management should have announced the list before the customary pre-match media briefing of the captain. 

Instead, it was announced after the skipper’s address, perhaps, to avoid pointed questions about a particular selection or omission. Nevertheless, the announcement on Wednesday put an end to the biggest debate ahead of the series-opener.

Shaw to open

With two uncapped openers — Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal — having been selected for the series, speculation was in full flow over K.L. Rahul’s opening partner. Shaw, having been selected for the last two Tests in England, was logically the front-runner. 

However, logic doesn’t necessarily play a role in India’s selection, as evidenced in the final Test in England when G. Hanuma Vihari, who had been called up as cover for Kohli midway through the series, made his debut ahead of Karun Nair who was serving drinks all through the series.

It was announced that Shaw will make his debut, prolonging Agarwal’s wait for an India cap. Moreover, the fact that Kohli stated that all the youngsters in the squad, including the duo, would get “enough chances and space” to prove themselves also augurs well for the duo.

Five bowlers 

The challenge for the management would be whether to go in with a three-pronged seam attack or field all the three specialist spinners. The shortlist of 12 excludes Agarwal, Vihari and Mohammed Siraj. 

It would be interesting to see if India fields the spin triumvirate of R. Ashwin, hometown hero Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav or hands paceman Shardul Thakur Test debut at the expense of Kuldeep. 

Irrespective of India’s combination, the Windies will know it has a huge task at hand, something that it has miserably failed during its last two trips to India. The onus will obviously be on captain Jason Holder, who has transformed into a genuine all-rounder. 

Holder will hope that the top order, which has performed well at home versus Sri Lanka and Bangladesh recently, will come good in alien conditions.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt), K.L. Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur.

West Indies: Jason Holder (Capt), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Sherman Lewis, Keemo Paul, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach and Jomel Warrican.

On-field umpires: Nigel Llong and Bruce Oxenford; TV umpire: Ian Gould; Match referee: Chris Broad.



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