Fresh India meet prepared Windies
India return to their comfort zone when they take on Windies in a two-match Test series starting at Rajkot on October 4. After losing to England 4-1, in what was a competitive series, Virat Kohli and his boys will want to get their acts right by winning and gaining momentum ahead of their big tour of Australia.
Windies, on the other hand, will have a lot to prove. They defeated Bangladesh 2-0 in their last completed Test series but will have a big task on hand when they face the number one Test team in their own backyard.
From the Indian dressing room:
Virat Kohli returns to lead the Indian team after missing the Asia Cup. The team management has broken the ritual and has announced their XII for the 1st Test a day in advance. Prithvi Shaw is set to debut and become India’s 293rd Test cricketer. The Mumbai prodigy has scored heaps of runs in the domestic circuit and for India ‘A’. He was also called up to replace Vijay for the last two Tests in England.
The team management has been bold to look beyond Shikhar Dhawan despite the latter scoring runs in white-ball cricket. His opening partner KL Rahul scored a breathtaking 149 in the last Test and will be keen to cash in on a dry Rajkot wicket.
Much will be expected out of local boy Cheteshwar Pujara who will be eyeing to get a big score under him before departing to Australia. Virat Kohli at number four and Ajinkya Rahane at number five are two great additions on any sub-continent wicket.
Rishabh Pant has consolidated his place in the XI after a stunning fourth inning ton in London, but the dashing wicket-keeper batsman will aim to prove his potential on familiar Indian turfs to further cement his place.
India go back to five batsmen on home-soil so Hanuma Vihari finds himself out of the XII. The spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be Kohli’s key weapons heading into the first Test and India will also have a choice to make between either fielding a third-spinner in Kuldeep Yadav or handing Shardul Thakur his debut.
In the absence of Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami will lead the pace bowling department with Vidarbha speedster Umesh Yadav.
From the Windies dressing room:
Windies have lost their new-ball quick Kemar Roach ahead of the first Test.but Jason Holder’s men are eager to surprise the Indians in Rajkot. Coach Stuart Law was confident about his youngsters being able to contribute.
Windies will be relying on Shannon Gabriel to get them early wickets but may also include either one of Alzarri Joseph or Keemo Paul in their XI.
The way Moeen Ali troubled India, coach Law would want his tall off-spinner Roston Chase to deliver in spin-friendly conditions and help Windies dominate. To support him, Windies also have the services of wrist spinner Devendra Bishoo and slow left-arm Jomel Warrican.
The Windies batting will heavily rely on opener Kraigg Brathwaite, his partner Kieron Powell and Shai Hope. Brathwaite has been solid upfront along with Shai Hope who has done the bulk of the scoring for them.
Their wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich will have to step up in the middle order while southpaw Shimron Hetmyer will want to continue his red-ball form on a flat surface in Rajkot.
India won’t forget how Roston Chase batted against them in the final Test when they toured the Windies. The positive for this side is that even Jason Holder can bat. So if Chase and Holder are able to contribute with the bat in the lower order, Windies will feel confident of causing trouble.
Overall, India will still start as favourites despite their big names missing.