West Indies vs India 2019, 1st Test prediction: Who will win the match?
West Indies looked out of sorts and played below their true potential in the T20I and ODI series against India. Now, both the teams will make their way into the ICC World Test Championships when they take on each other in a two-match Test series starting tomorrow at North Sound, Antigua.
West Indies's last home series was rather eventful, as they pulled off a stunning upset to defeat England 2-1. It was a complete team effort where the bowlers, led by an inspired Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, tore apart England's batting lineup.
The hosts will now be up against the No. 1 ranked Test team in the world. India have been in this position for 36 months, and would be a wholly different challenge for West Indies. But Jason Holder's men will be looking to feed off the confidence gained from the series win against England and make the visitors sweat.
India have got to the pinnacle of Test cricket on the back of a combined team effort. Led by the exemplary Virat Kohli, they have achieved what no other Indian team of the past could - win a Test series in Australia. They were clearly the better team on that tour, which was reflected in the series result.
Coming off such a historic performance, the team's confidence and self-belief would be at an all-time high. And they would want to start their journey in the ICC World Test Championships on a positive and resounding note.
Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams, here are a few reasons why India are likely to win this match:
1. Their batting lineup featuring Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant already looks strong and dynamic. If Rohit Sharma makes it to the playing XI instead of Hanuma Vihari or Rahane, then it gets even stronger.
2. India's bowling spearhead in the past few years Jasprit Bumrah will be back in action after a short break post India's World Cup exit. He will raring to go along with Ishant Sharma; the two have been instrumental in India's success as a Test team in the past few years.
3. West Indies have lacked consistency for quite some time now. They will most likely play with the same set of players who beat England earlier, but will they turn up on the given day? When they are up against this Indian bowling unit, can their batsmen put up a solid performance? These questions don't have easy answers.
The start of the ICC Test Championships means that both teams will start afresh. Despite the fact that West Indies haven't won a single Test match against India in their past 14 encounters, they will hope to rewrite history. But the odds are against them.
India on their part need to sort out their batting lineup, and decide whether to pick Rohit Sharma and play with six batsmen or go in with Ravindra Jadeja instead. West Indies look more settled as a team on that front, and should try to capitalize on India's instability.
If they can do that we are in for a cracker of a contest at North Sound. India are expected to win this game, but funny things can happen in Test cricket.