West Indies v India, 1st Test: India Probable XI
Published - Jul 17, 2016 1:17 pm | Updated - Jul 17, 2016 1:17 pm
The cricketing action will now descend into the calmness of Test cricket after an action-packed season of limited overs cricket. India will have a chance to re-write history when they meet West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua. Traditionally, the hosts have dominated the competition but the Indians emerged victorious the last two times they toured the Caribbean islands in 2006 and 2011, winning the series 1-0 on each occasion.
In 2006, it was a highly experienced side that won the trophy. In 2011, the scenario was different as the Indian team was in a sort of transitional period. Most of the legends had retired and the younger men were at the learning stage. This time around, the team is completely different and has only two members – Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay – who travelled to West Indies the last time around. Experience wise they still hold the edge over the hosts but the unpredictability factor will make the contest very exciting.
The last time, Murali Vijay toured this beautiful place, he had a torrid time. Vijay played in all 3 Tests and managed just 72 runs at an average of 12. With solid knocks against Australia, England South Africa in their own backyards, Vijay has seen a lot in his career since then and is a highly improved individual. He would surely want to improve his stats when he comes out to bat this time and register some memorable knocks.
This will be the first time Shikhar Dhawan will be playing West Indies in West Indies. Speaking of Test form, Dhawan experienced a downslide in his batting form during the home series against South Africa. His failure to score runs in home condition after hitting back to back centuries against Bangladesh and Sri Lankan was quite surprising. But, the left-hander is a batsman too dangerous to write off and West Indies should certainly have some good plans to stop him.
It will be a chance for the ‘Test specialist’ Cheteshwar Pujara to prove his mettle in this format outside the subcontinent. He has smacked some great knocks in the past but all have been at home. He had a good domestic season with his home side Saurashtra. With 232 runs in six outings, Pujara was in some form. He even had three fifties to show his efforts. It’s been long since we saw him in action and it is anticipated that he will give performances worth cherishing.
The last time Kohli toured here, it was the just the beginning for the then 22-year-old. 5 years down the line, a different Virat Kohli has stepped foot in the Caribbean. The Test skipper had a very dismal time. In three Tests, he scored just 76 runs at an average of 15.20. The story can be different this time around though for Kohli who is now the one of the biggest superstar in the cricketing world.
The newly appointed vice-captain has a fixed spot in the side. His wait, assess and then go after the opposition attitude will be very helpful batting on the slow tracks here in West Indies. He has been the anchor of the team and brings solidity to the middle order. He has had a wonderful time in Test cricket in the last two years and India will try to bank on his consistency.
Rohit Sharma, who regularly opens in the limited overs formats will drop down to the middle order and take the 6th spot in the side. Sharma is yet to achieve the amount of success he has achieved in the limited overs format. And, this fact would surely be running in his mind every time he comes out to bat in the whites. This series will be an important one in his Test career.
Wriddhiman Saha makes a cut in the team as the ‘specialist’ wicket keeper. The 31-year-old, whose career was overshadowed by the great MS Dhoni, has waited long for his chances to arrive. He remains the first choice as of now but must ensure that he plays every series and game as his last if he aims to leave an impression in the Test format.
Ravindra Jadeja has been having a fun time so far; relaxing under the sun and horse riding. The Rajput boy, however, will have a tough time bowling long spell in the humid weather. Bowling in the Caribbean will be different than doing the same in India. He has always shown he belongs to the top. In three matches for the state side last season, he picked up as many as 37 wickets, which eventually led to a Test recall. Later, he justified his spot taking 23 wickets in 4 Tests playing the perfect partner to Ashwin. The Indian camp will expect him to rattle the West Indians in a similar manner.
Ravichandran Ashwin is India’s bowling spearhead in every sense. The off-spinner is a proven match–winner and will be the single biggest threat to the opposition along with Jadeja. However, bowling on the slow wickets won’t be easy and the brainy cricketer knows it very well. Ashwin has already acknowledged the fact and seems to be completely prepared to bowl on such wickets.
Ishant Sharma may not have the best of the records in ODI format, but he surely has a reputation in the Test format. He himself believes in the same feels that the longer version suits him better. Ishant enjoyed a great time when he came here last time in 2011, finishing with 22 wickets from three Tests, at an impressive average of 16.86. It also included match figures of 10 for 108 in Barbados, his best ever return in Tests.
A long layoff from active cricket was frustrating for Mohammad Shami. He will be returning to international cricket after more than 15 months since undergoing the knee surgery. A bowler of Shami’s quality and ability can do well on any kind of surface. His attacking line and length will test the West Indians greatly and it will be exciting to see how he fares in his comeback tour.