It’s time for West Indies to prove their worth……
West Indies are all set to lock horns with India in the opening Test at Rajkot. The visiting side would be little high on confidence after clean sweeping Bangladesh in a two-match series recently at home, but India would pose a challenge of a different kind. They will be a tough nut to crack for the West Indies. India, on the other hand, will be hoping to seek redemption after losing the series in England. They have been unstoppable at home and one can expect this series to be no different. India are overwhelming favourites and should be the team to beat in the series.
West Indies are a budding side; the last time they played against India was in their own backyard, where they lost the four-match series 2-0. With spin being India’s primary weapon at home, West Indies will certainly have a tough time negotiating it. Let’s analyse West Indies’ squad for the series.
West Indies suffered a huge blow when Kemar Roach was reported to miss the first Test following the death of his grandmother. Roach had a key role to play in their latest series against Bangladesh and looked in good rhythm. West Indies have a huge gap to fill in Roach’s absence, who has been instrumental with the new ball. West Indies have some young legs to fill in the space, but stepping up against the No.1 Test side will be a challenge.
The Under-19 captain Keemo Paul has a healthy First-Class record while Sherman Lewis did well against India A in July this year, where he picked eight wickets in a four-day match. They have the potential and will be interesting to see if they transform that into performance. Paul has a First-Class century to his name, which is an indication to his ability to bat that will certainly come handy against a formidable side like India. He is also Cricket West Indies’ emerging player of the year for the ongoing year. .
Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel have a lot of responsibility to shoulder with the ball in the absence of Roach. Holder has been the bowler for West Indies this year; he has the best average of 12 for matches starting this year and for bowlers with minimum 20 wickets. Gabriel has scalped 28 wickets in five games this year, he is currently placed 11th in the Test bowlers rankings and his rhythm has been good. If there is any help in the surface, one can expect Gabriel to exploit it to the fullest.
Talking about spinners, West Indies have Devendra Bishoo, Jomel Warrican and the part-time spin option of Roston Chase. Bishoo had a good run in the UAE against Pakistan and also picked eight wickets in a match, which the West Indies lost. With the conditions in India being conducive for spin, one can expect Bishoo to do well. He has plethora of experience and should be the key for West Indies. Bishoo had three wickets in his kitty in the Tour game.
West Indies have some serious potential in their batting. Brathwaite has a decent experience of 10 games in Asia, where he averages almost 40. An opener’s success is very crucial in this format, West Indies would be hoping Brathwaite to bring his experience into play and get runs in heaps against India. He did well to score a fifty in the Tour game and remained unbeaten. His partner Kieran Powell showed good technique and temperament for his unbeaten 44, which is a good sign for West Indies.
Shai Hope hogged the headlines for his valiant display in England; he holds the key for West Indies batting. Blessed with a sound technique and temperament, Hope has been consistent for West Indies in games away from home. He averages 43.81 in away games, and it will be interesting to see if he could replicate his magic against India as well. Ha managed to get 36 in the Tour game, but West Indies would be expecting him to get daddy hundreds in the series.
Shimron Hetmyer is another fantastic addition and has the hunger to excel. Sunil Ambris smashed an emphatic ton against the Board President’s XI, which is an alarming sign for India. Chase didn’t have a great run against Bangladesh as well as in the Tour game. Shane Dowrich was in excellent form against Sri Lanka, but failed to weave magic against Bangladesh. Both bat in the middle-order and need to rediscover their form before it’s too late in the series.
This is also the first trip to India for many West Indies players, and one can expect this to be a tough one. India are playing full-strength squad, which will test West Indies Achilles heels. West Indies will have to bring their best game out in order to put up a fight against the Indian giants.