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West Indies v India, I Test, St John’s -- preview

Misfiring host has its task cut out against Kohli’s well-rounded outfit

West Indies v India, I Test, St John’s -- preview - Cricket News
Against a quality Indian batting line-up, whatever the order West Indies choose to go with, that bowling attack will be tested.
The last two times India has travelled to the Caribbean Islands for a Test series, it has come back victorious – in 2006 and 2011, both times with identical 1-0 scorelines.
 
Starting Thursday (July 21) at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in St John’s, the two teams clash again, and considering recent records, the Indians would fancy their chances of making it three in three, even though it won’t be easy.
 
In the last 12 months, a period heavy with Twenty20 cricket, India has played just seven Tests, three in Sri Lanka and four at home against South Africa, and has won both times – 2-1 in Sri Lanka and 3-0 against the South Africans. In the same period, West Indies has lost four of its five Tests, two each away to Sri Lanka and Australia. After that Indian tour in 2011, West Indies has travelled twice to India and lost both times – 2-0 in November 2011 and by the same margin in November 2013. The ICC Test rankings – India at No. 2 and West Indies one off the bottom at No. 8 – also don’t do the host any favours.
 
Despite an outstanding 2016 for West Indies in shorter forms of the game, when it won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, and had both its men’s and women’s teams triumphing at the ICC World Twenty20, it hasn’t gotten going in Test cricket.


 
The West Indies selectors took the bold step of dropping Denesh Ramdin, the experienced wicketkeeper-batsman, for Shane Dowrich, who made his Test debut as a specialist batsman against Australia in Dominica a year ago. Ramdin’s axing – as well as the retirement from Test cricket of Jerome Taylor - has left West Indies with very little experience. Kemar Roach has been ignored too. Marlon Samuels has been persisted with, but he is in need of a run of good scores after not having crossed 20 in his last nine Test innings.
 
West Indies’ biggest concern, though, is in the bowling department where the two main wicket-takers, Shannon Gabriel and Devendra Bishoo, have been injury-prone over the past 12 months. Miguel Cummins, who was brought in for Taylor, is tipped for a Test debut, while Jason Holder, the captain, and Carlos Brathwaite could be called upon to produce long, tight spells of medium pace.
 
Against a quality Indian batting line-up, whatever the order the visitor chooses to go with, that bowling attack will be tested. India’s bowling, too, has all bases covered, with seasoned spin options in R Ashwin and Amit Mishra, as well as Ravindra Jadeja, and a good battery of pace bowlers in Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as well as new boy Shardul Thakur, all complemented by the all-round skills of Stuart Binny.
 
Led by the ambitious and aggressive Virat Kohli, and under new coach Anil Kumble, who is as aggressive and ambitious as Kohli is, the Indians will want to grab the series by the scruff of its neck as early as possible. The onus will be on the West Indians to make sure that doesn’t happen.
 
Teams (from):
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Rajendra Chandrika, Kraigg Brathwaite, Leon Johnson, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich (wk), Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel.

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Stuart Binny, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav.

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