Antigua: After a long hiatus in Test cricket, India and West Indies will don whites in a four-match series as the latter play hosts to Virat Kohli’s brigade. The first Test begins from July 21, here on Thursday.
Newly-elected head coach Anil Kumble seems to instil an aggressive approach towards the game supporting skipper Kohli’s stance. India, whose bowling department perennially seems to fail overseas, will look to turn the tide in their favour.
West Indies have had to cope up with major issues after the squad was announced. Wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin launched a tirade on Twitter venting his frustration after he was left out. Fast bowler Jerome Taylor too, out of nowhere announced his retirement. Skipper Jason Holder admitted the home series will be a huge challenge for the hosts.
Barring Shannon Gabriel, the side has no specialist seamers. With lack of experience in the playing XI, the Windies comparatively look a far weaker team than India. However, there are some who can create trouble for the visitors. Let’s take a look.
With a little help from Ian Bishop, his name echoed across the globe after the final of the ICC World T20 on April 3 this year. All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, a specialist in T20s has exuberated confidence into the West Indies unit. More than his officious batting, Braithwaite, who made his Test debut against Australia at Melbourne last year, is known for sticking to his tight lengths which reflects in a healthy economy rate —3.76. Test cricket is known for its ‘boring’ bowling as has been resonated by the Indians. Braithwaite will more than be a handful for Team India and with confidence backing him, he has the ability to spring a few surprises.
The most experienced player in the side and one West Indies will be relying heavily to perform. Marlon Samuels might have not lived up to the expectations of his country. In 64 Tests, a Test average of 33.53 does not do justice to his potential. The home series will definitely will be a happy hunting ground for Samuels, who has a highest score of 260 in Tests. The 35-year-old will want to set an example to the youngsters.
Elegant left-hander Darren Bravo, one of the consistent names in the West Indies batting line-up, will be a prominent hurdle for India. Most of the Windies batsmen lack experience and the onus will be on Bravo to anchor the innings. Coming on the back of an impressive performance in the Tri-Nation series, where he registered a ton against South Africa, the 27-year-old, averaging 41.50 in Tests, has been in good form recently. A ton will be expected from the southpaw and the Indian bowlers have their work cut out bowling to him.
Trinidadian fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, the only specialist seamer in the 12-man squad has been on a role recently. With six wickets in three matches during the Tri-Nation series, Gabriel, often compared to Ian Bishop, can cause upsets in favourable conditions. India have shown their vulnerability with the moving ball overseas. Although pitches during the series will be deemed slow, with the new ball Gabriel, who has picked up just 34 wickets in 16 matches, can rattle the top Indian batting order.
Considering the slow pitches in the Caribbean, leg-break bowler Devendra Bishoo can possibly make a mark in the series. Bishoo, who last played a Test in October 2015, against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, showed a glimpse of his capability last year when he evoked memories of the 'Ball of the Century' cleaning up Aussie Brad Haddin with an absolute beauty. The 30-year-old, who has picked up 55 wickets in 15 matches, can continue his brilliance in this series. He also has success against India. He took seven wickets at Sabina Park in 2011 and finished that series as West Indies' second highest wicket-taker with 12 scalps in three matches at 32.58.