The time has finally arrived. India and West Indies battle against each other in a two-match Test series, starting October 4. After a long tour of England, the Indian Test team will be hoping to set things right and go all guns blazing at home.
India announced a 12-member final squad for the first Test on Wednesday. Prithvi Shaw is all set to make his debut for the hosts as Mayank Agarwal has to play the waiting game as of now. Mayank was selected in the 15-member squad announced, earlier, by the BCCI.
Several players would look to make the opportunity count in the first Test in Rajkot. There are some interesting names from both teams that could make themselves heard. India go in as the favourites, but one should look forward to a young Windies outfit as well.
Here we look at key players that could determine the 1st Test in Rajkot.
Virat Kohli – India
The 29-year-old Indian skipper has been the standout performer for the nation in the longest format of the game. This year Kohli has continued the hardworking mantra and has been rock solid. In 8 Tests in 2018, he has amassed 879 runs with 3 centuries and 4 fifties.
He is the leading run-scorer in this format this term. This is his first outing at home in Test cricket this season for the vintage Kohli and expects the in-form player to come and make himself heard. He got a timely rest in the Asia Cup and Kohli will be focused and fresh. Further, his on-field decisions will be key to India’s overall show.
R Ashwin – India
Premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be up against one of his favourite opponents. He has always performed well against the Carribean side. His bowling record at home since the last couple of years has been brilliant. He will be well supported by Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
Interestingly, all of his 4 Test centuries have come up against the West Indies, and one shouldn’t rule him out with the bat. He struggled with form and fitness in the latter stages of the England series, but one can expect a fit Ashwin to do what he does best.
The senior spinner is definitely a force to be reckoned with. He is one of the side’s leaders and with Australia not so long far, this will serve as a perfect opportunity for him to sharpen his skillset.
Ajinkya Rahane – India
The vice-captain’s form has eluded him over the last few years. His last three series this year have all been a par-below than what he is capable of. Therefore the outing against WI is crucial in terms of building his confidence.
Time is running out for Rahane, and there are players knocking on the door. With Australia series up next, Rahane needs to show what he is capable of. He cannot endure the same fate as Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan. The middle-order batsman needs to click big time.
His record in the home conditions has been surprisingly abysmal, and he will look to change that. Can he build on his strengths and make it count?
Kraigg Brathwaite – West Indies
The opener is no doubt one of the most pivotal names in the Windies line-up. Known for his patient attributes and classy shot-making, Brathwaite could help the team in getting quality runs. He has played an important role for his side since his debut.
Batting against India won’t be easy and he has to remain patient and work for runs. One expects him to do the same as he has the appetite for big innings. Recently, he scored a gritty 52 in the warm-up game against the Board President’s XI.
West Indies batsmen will hope to revolve around him and contribute to the team’s goal.
Jason Holder – West Indies
Windies captain Holder holds the fort for West Indies with his all-round attributes. He is an efficient speedster and is four short of reaching the 200-wicket mark in Tests. He is also 17 runs short from the 1,500-run mark in this format.
The skipper will look to bowl well and account for wickets. One thing that will help him is being consistent with his line and length and purchasing bounce. He recently picked up a plethora of wickets against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (28).
The skipper played a crucial role in leading his side well. This will help him believe that he can get something out here against India. Holder needs to revitalise his team on hot conditions and his attributes will be handy in changing the course of the game.
Devendra Bishoo – West Indies
Devendra Bishoo is one of the experienced spinners for the West Indies and that could come handy for the side. Several spinners are doing well recently and Bishoo too comes in the picture. On Indian pitches that assist spin, his threat could loom large.
India was troubled by Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in England and therefore there is a weak link in the side. Bishoo has picked 106 wickets in 32 Test matches. Since his debut in 2011, he has been in and out of the side, but of late he has done well to be a crucial member.
In the last 12 months has been in decent form picking up 17 wickets in 6 matches at an average of 29.82. Also in the last two years has played 3 matches in Asia and has picked up 18 wickets. He will be Holder’s, main man.