West Indies vs India 2019, 1st Test: Preview, pitch report, weather forecast, probable playing XI, key statistics
Virat Kohli's Team India will square off against the West Indies in the first Test of the two-match series starting Thursday, 22 August at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. Although the Indians dismantled the West Indies in the limited-overs leg of the tour, Test matches are a different kettle of fish.
Positioned at the pinnacle of the Test rankings, India will be looking to begin their ICC World Test Championship journey with a humbling of the hosts. On the other hand, West Indies, who haven't beaten India in a Test in over a decade, will be desperate to register their first victory of the tour.
The surface at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua tends to be on the slower side, offering quite a lot of assistance to the spinners. The dry nature of the pitch facilitates sharp turn as the game progresses.
Consistent, disciplined bowling will be the key as batsmen might struggle to find their rhythm due to the lack of pace and bounce on offer.
The weather may play spoilsport in the upcoming clash as persistent showers have been forecast over the course of the game. Daytime temperature is expected to be around 29°c and could dip to around 27°c at night. The humidity will be around 78%.
Likely team combinations
The nature of the surface favours the inclusion of spinners in the playing XI. From a batting perspective, Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul could be set to open the innings. One of Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari will be included in the side, considering the need to have five specialist bowlers.
Ravindra Jadeja is likely to feature in the XI as well. India are likely to opt for three seamers which means one of Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav will miss out. It will also be interesting to witness who gets the nod between Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha.
Probable Playing XI: Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agrawal, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Jason Holder is expected to name a similar side to the one that defeated England at Bridgetown, Barbados earlier this year. Latest Test recruit, off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, might make his debut in place of the injured Alzarri Joseph.
Probable Playing XI: Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Kemar Roach.
Since West Indies' last victory against the visitors back in 2002, India have comprehensively won 12 Tests and ensured stalemates in the remaining 9. In the Caribbean since 2002, India won 1-0 in 2006 and 2011 and 2-0 in 2016.
Captain Virat Kohli is just one overseas victory away from surpassing the legendary Sourav Ganguly as the captain with the most away wins. The duo is tied at 11 apiece at the moment.
If India clinch the Test series 2-0, Kohli (26 wins currently) will go past MS Dhoni (27 wins) as India's most successful Test captain ever.
Ravindra Jadeja is just 8 wickets away from achieving the landmark of 200 Test wickets. If he is able to do so in this series, he'll become the fastest left-arm spinner to that mark, leaving behind Rangana Herath who achieved the feat in 47 Tests.