TEST: Can Holder and Roach’s return lift flat West Indies?
After Edgbaston, there was Headingley. After Abu Dhabi, there was Sharjah. On away tours over the last two years, West Indies have suffered major setbacks, but at least on these two occasions they have shown they can bounce back.
While even the most optimistic of the West Indies supporters won’t be expecting such a turnaround, what they will want is a closer contest than the three-day squash in Rajkot. And this West Indies side has shown they are capable of that.
The thing about fight is, sometimes you can only fight as much as the opposition allows you to. And at home, India don’t allow you to fight that much. The best Test team in the world is downright dominant at home. If they have one eye on Australia during this series, that is because they can afford to do so.
Prithvi Shaw seems to have booked his place as an opener come Adelaide in the first week of December. With his maiden century, Ravindra Jadeja has begun his audition as the allrounder well, should the injured Hardik Pandya not make it to Australia. Now for KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane to score some runs.
In the spotlight
Ajinkya Rahane went to South Africa late last year without a big score against Sri Lanka at home. The result was his missing the first two Tests as the team management went on current form. Now home conditions are not his favourite, but he needs to score a big one in this Test to carry some current form, and more importantly confidence, to Australia.
Without their talisman, their captain, Jason Holder, West Indies were half the team they usually are. There was nobody to peg away outside off for fours when India were getting easy runs. There was nobody to pitch a tent when the India bowlers were running through the wickets. A fit Holder should mean a more competitive West Indies.
India have named an unchanged twelve, which means there is a good chance Virat Kohli might field an unchanged XI only for the second time in 42 Tests as captain. That also means Mayank Agarwal will not get a go as a Test opener before the Australia tour.
India: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt.), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 R Ashwin, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Kuldeep Yadav/Shardul Thakur
West Indies will hope the return of Holder and Kemar Roach revitalises them. Sunil Ambris will be under pressure to retain his place after two disappointing dismissals, but they are not carrying any back-up except wicketkeeper-batsman Jahmar Hamilton. Devendra Bishoo failed to create any pressure as a spinner in Rajkot, and there might be temptation to replace him with the more accurate fingerspin of Jomel Warrican.
West Indies (possible): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Shai Hope, 4 Sunil Ambris, 5 Shimron Hetmeyer, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Devendra Bishoo/Jomel Warrican, 11 Shannon Gabriel (ESPNCricinfo)