India will be keen to make a fresh start against West Indies and with a few new and exciting faces in the squad, it augurs well for the series and for India as well to an extent. India are giving themselves the best possible chance to test a few players before the Australia Test series later this year.
It’s been one-sided affair between both the sides in this decade and West Indies' young players would like to count this opportunity to make a mark as India are No 1 in current ICC Test rankings.
“These (Windies) players need to stand up and make their own destiny, create their own legacy. It's very difficult living in the shadows of giants, these guys are taking great steps forward, there's some world class talent, once they realise their potential, they would be names on tips of everyone's tongue in the years to come,” Stuart Law, Windies coach said in the pre-match conference.
It will be interesting to see which team’s young players will hog the limelight.
Let’s look at few key stats before the series begins.
Mayank Agarwal was knocking the doors of national cricket team since many days like a graduate student with an excellent Grade Point Average (GPA) trying to get a job but still not getting it. Mayank broke the doors of national team with plethora of runs behind his back and the 90-run knock against West Indies in the only practice match helped his cause for sure. He averages 76.90 in First-Class matches since 2017-18 season. With the failures of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay in overseas tours, it became a necessity for India to look for new openers for the Australia series and they can’t ask for more than a home series against West Indies to experiment. However, Mayank won't make his debut at Rajkot but chances are that he gets a look in, in the second Test.
India have a side for all conditions now-a-days. However, the results did not go their way in South Africa and England but at home, India are almost invincible. The last few Tests have been dominated by the Virat Kohli-led team and the spinners have played crucial role in making that happen. India is the only team to have a win/loss ratio of more than 10 in the last three years in the Test whites.
Moreover, the last time when West Indies won a Test match in India was way back in 1994. It was at Mohali when they defeated India by 243 runs.
India will play without their four front-line pacers in the series as Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya are yet to recover from their respective injuries. To manage the workload, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have been give rest.
Siraj might not be making debut at Rajkot but the day is not far away. He has taken a wicket every 29 balls which is stupendous for a young pacer. He would like to make his case for Australia series as a backup pacer. He has the pace. All he needs is wickets for India in the whites to stamp his authority if he gets a chance.
‘Shaw came and Shaw conquered’ – this can be a headline in the next few days as it is pretty much certain that he will open with KL Rahul for India in the first Test. He has the technique, timing, elegance but more importantly the strike rate at which he has scored runs in First-Class Cricket – 76.69 which separates him from others.
The fact that Shaw is very young and can be groomed in the next few series, it is vital for him to grab the opportunity with both the hands and the inclusion of Agarwal in the squad will also push Shaw to bring his A game forward.
The tough period is finally over for the double 'R' as they are returning home to wreck havoc against Windies. Their numbers speak for themselves at home in the recent few years. It will be intriguing to see how India use Jadeja – the batsman, if he is in their scheme of things for the upcoming World Cup.
Windies’ wait for winning a Test series against India has been stretched to 15 years and how they will respond in this series, will tell us more about their investment in players and First-Class structure. They last won a Test series against India way back in 2002.
Virat Kohli is back after enjoying his rest and he will be eyeing to complete 3,000 Test runs in India during the series along with 1000 runs in this calendar year. He is already the highest run-getter this year and with the success in England, he will be more eager to pile on the runs at home.