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India has an edge against the West Indies

The Roar logo The Roar 11-07-2016

After a series of limited-overs tournaments, India has geared up for a series of Test matches, starting with the current West Indies tour.

Under new head coach Anil Kumble, India have landed in the Caribbean to play a four-Test series. Generally every visiting team plays one-dayers and Twenty20s after a Test series, but this tour will only have five-day matches and that, in my opinion, is a very welcome change. 

India last toured West Indies in 2011 and won a three-match Test series 1-0. At that time, it was entirely a different Test squad, with Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and MS Dhoni at the helm.

From the current squad, only Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra have toured the West Indies before. Players like Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the first-timers here and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the conditions individually and as a team.

India has a very long home season after the current tour, as they will be hosting New Zealand, England, Australia and, finally, Bangladesh for a whopping 13 Test matches. Hence, this tour of the West Indies is considered to be very crucial for the young Team India who have only been playing limited-overs matches for quite some time.

They last played a Test match in December 2015 against visiting South Africa and won the series comprehensively, 3-0.

The current Test squad consists of many of the same players that played the last Test match against South Africa, with the notable inclusion of Mohammad Shami.

The core group remains same and that makes team India a very strong contender against a West Indies side who have made the notable exclusion of their former Test skipper and wicket keeper Dinesh Ramdin.

On paper, the Indian team looks very strong with the likes of Kohli, Rahane, Vijay and Rohit Sharma as their batting mainstays. Rahane, with added responsibility of being vice captain, Sharma and Saha have never been to the Carribean and they will have their task cut out to deal with tricky WI pitches.

The bowling department will be led by comeback man Shami, along with Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Ashwin and Mishra. It’ll be interesting to see if Shami gets a nod ahead of Yadav, because he is returning from a long lay-off and hasn’t had a lot of match practice.

Going by the Kohli’s captaincy record, he’s likely to go with Ashwin and Mishra as the main spinners with support from Jadeja while the fast bowlers will be Sharma and Yadav.

It will be also interesting to see whether India gives an opportunity to in-form batsman KL Rahul at first drop or to Cheteshwar Pujara, who has fallen off the radar.

Considering the last match played at Antigua was drawn with both sides scoring more than 300 in both the innings, it’ll again be a batting wicket and whoever wins the toss will aim to bat first and take an early advantage.

It will be a huge challenge for yet-to-be-announced West Indies side to tackle the experienced Indian batting order. However Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor, if selected, could pose an early threat to the Indian batsmen with their raw pace, but if these bowlers run out of steam then it’ll be difficult for the West Indies bowlers to contain the opposition.

The first Test will decide the tone for rest of the series and it’ll be very interesting to see how the young Indian players handle the pitch against an unstable but talented West Indies squad.

A switch of mindset will be very important for both the sides, as they are coming off a spate of limited-overs tournaments. Test match cricket is an altogether different ball game.

Slideshow: Meet India's 17-man squad for the West Indies tour

India squad for West Indies sees maiden call-up for Shardul Thakur: BCCI selectors headed by Sandip Patil, BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke alongwith other selectors, MSK Prasad, Vikram Rathour, Gagan Khoda and Saba Karim met to pick the team for India's upcoming tours of Zimbabwe where the team will play limited overs matches and for West Indies where the Men in Blue will play Test matches. (Source: PTI)India squad for tour of West Indies Meet India's 17-man squad for the West Indies tour

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