West Indies suffered their biggest defeat against India in the first Test at Rajkot when they lost by an innings and 272 runs. West Indies lost all their 20 wickets in 4 sessions of play and the match got over in 3 days.
If you take all their previous 5 defeats against India, it was all by colossal margins. A loss by 237 runs, by an innings and 92 runs, by an innings and 126 runs, by an innings and 51 runs and by an innings and 15 runs. The last time West Indies won a Test match against India was at Kingston in 2002. The last time West Indies won a Test match in India was way back in 1994 at Mohali.
Against this background, West Indies are now approaching the second Test against India at Hyderabad. Let us analyse what the Windies should do to win the second Test and level the series.
#1 Select the correct combination
West Indies went into the first Test match with 3 fast bowlers, the leg break bowler Devendra Bishoo and off-break bowler Roston Chase. They were one slow bowler short on Indian conditions. For the second Test, fast bowlers Sherman Lewis and Keemo Paul should leave the way for Jason Holder and slow left-arm orthodox bowler Jomel Warrican. James Warrican is an unknown quantity and could be used as a surprise weapon. The presence of Jason Holder would strengthen the Windies batting line up.
#2 Bat first after winning the toss
Should the Windies win the toss, they should have no hesitation in batting first. The forecast for the first two days of the second Test match is expected to be partly cloudy. But the West Indies should not be carried away by that. It would be difficult for the West Indies, for that matter any team in the world, to beat India in India batting second. The only option left for the West Indies is to bat first and hope for the best.
#3 Put heavy runs on the board
Going by Virat Kohli’s luck with the toss in the recent times, there is more likelihood of West Indies winning the toss and batting first. It is one thing to win the toss and totally another to convert on that opportunity big time.
The West Indies batsmen should apply themselves to put a decent total on the board in the first innings. Runs on the board would put India under pressure. In the first Test, the West Indies batsmen showed a lot of impatience which resulted in their collapse in both the innings.
#4 Attack the Indian spinners
Kieran Powell showed in the second innings of the first Test that attack was the best option in handling the Indian spinners when he smacked 83 off 93 balls. Even before Powell, Keemo Paul showed in the first innings how these Indian spinners could be handled without any fuss. Kuldeep Yadav was taken for 62 runs in his 10 overs in the first innings.
The West Indies batsmen should show the same intent to dominate the Indian spinners over a longer duration to create an outside chance of winning the match. Trying to play the spinners from within the crease would once again spell doom.
#5 Exploit the weaknesses of the Indian batsmen
When the Windies come out to bowl, they should aim to exploit the weaknesses of the Indian batsmen.
# K.L. Rahul is vulnerable to in-swingers in the initial stages of the innings.
# Prithvi Shaw has this tendency to hit the ball in the air between the third slip and gully area. Besides, with his aggressive intent, he could be easily lured into playing a false shot.
# Pujara is a poor runner between the wickets and Ajinkya Rahane is not in the best of forms and a slow starter against spin.
# Both Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja are vulnerable to pace at the beginning of their innings.
As far as King Kohli is concerned, the Windies should be hoping against hope that the Law of Averages catches up with the Indian captain this time around. Kohli is an uncontrollable factor for which the West Indies cannot plot.
#6 Nothing to lose approach
The one thing in favour of the West Indies is that they have got nothing to lose in the second Test, except, of course, pride. This could very well work in their favour. All the attention is on Team India and the West Indies are not expected to win anything in India. This is the right time for the West Indies to slip one across India and catch them by surprise.
Looking back, the odds are stacked heavily against the West Indies turning the table on India in the second Test. It is not impossible but at the same time, it looks improbable. Apart from exhibiting good cricket skills, the Windies need a lot of luck with the toss and other facets of the game.
The West Indies should draw inspiration from their tour of India in 2011 when they ran India so close in two of the three Test matches. They should stimulate themselves with their last Test win in India in 1994 at Mohali when the genial giant Courtney Walsh inspired his team to win that Test against all odds.
Cricket, as in life, the most unexpected things, good or bad, happen at the most unexpected time. Stranger things have happened in cricket before. Right now, the minds of the Indian players are set on the Australian tour rather than on the job in hand. The chances are quite open for the West Indies to seize the Indians off-guard. It remains to be seen whether they have the mental strength and cricket acumen to upset the Indians.