India vs West Indies 1st Test : Preview and Playing XI
The opening fixture of the Windies tour of India is set to get underway from October 4 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. It has been close to 24 years now since the West Indies last won a Test match in India and they will be going into this game with the aim of breaking the jinx.
Windies last won a Test match against India way back in 2002 at Kingston and it was a handsome victory for them as they went on to win by 155 runs. However, it won't be easy for Jason Holder and his troops to beat the number one Test team in the world and that too in their own den.
India have played almost all of their Test cricket away from home this year except the one-off Test against Afghanistan. They started off the year with a 1-2 series loss in South Africa, then decimated Afghanistan at home in Bengaluru before being thrashed 1-4 in England.
India have not been defeated in the last seven Test matches they have played at home which makes them a force to reckon with especially at home.
Batting: Virat Kohli is going through a supreme run of form at the moment. The skipper finished as the best batsman in the last series against England with 593 runs and he will once again be a major threat for Carribean bowlers.
Cheteshwar Pujara has been India's most dependable player when it comes to Test cricket and he also has a century against his name in the only Test match played at this ground and his hunger for runs in this format makes him another key figure in this strong Indian batting line-up.
KL Rahul cracked 149 in his previous Test outing against England and in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal, he is likely to open the innings with Prithvi Shaw and it will be up to pair to set up a good platform for the rest of the innings.
Bowling : Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the danger men with the ball on this dusty spin-friendly surface and both are likely to cause more problems for the West Indian batsmen.
Mohammed Shami is coming off an impressive tour of England and he will look to provide the early breakthroughs. With the probable 12 already revealed, it would be interesting to see whether Kohli goes for an extra spinner in Kuldeep Yadav or hands a debut to pacer Shardul Thakur.
Expected Playing XI: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur/Kuldeep Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara.
West Indies have lost just one out of the five Tests they have played so far this year. Their most recent Test series win came at home against Bangladesh in July. It was a two-match series which the hosts ended up winning comfortably by 2-0.
Prior to that, they drew 1-1 against Sri Lanka in a three-match series that was also played at home. They will take confidence from their recent success in this format and will aim to end the 24-year drought.
Batting: The Caribbean batting will mainly depend on Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope. Sunil Ambris also played an attacking innings of 114 runs in the practice match against Board Presidents XI. It will be crucial that they take the confidence into the match to help Windies post a good total on board.
Kraigg Brathwaite topped the runs charts in the home Test series against Bangladesh with 239 runs and the team will need him to carry his form into this series. The Windies will also bank on the likes of Shane Dowric and Kieran Powell to make notable contributions in this match.
Bowling: When it comes to bowling, West Indies have a decent bowling attack in Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder and Devendra Bishoo. Gabriel with 111 wickets in 37 Tests, has been the team's go-to bowler and the onus will be on him to make the early inroads into the Indian top order.
While captain Holder was leading wicket-taker in their previous Test series against Bangladesh with 16 wickets, Bishoo has also impressed with a three-wicket haul in the practice match against BPXI. These two will bear the responsibility to break down partnerships at regular intervals.
Expected Playing XI : Jason Holder (c), Devendra Bishoo, Keemo Paul, Shannon Gabriel, Sherman Lewis, Kraigg Brathwaite, Sunil Ambris, Kieran Powell, Shai Hope, Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich.