India using West Indies series as testing ground for Australia tour can backfire

Ajit Vijaykumar 07:41 02/10/2018
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West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel (r).

India see the upcoming series against the West Indies as an opportunity to prepare for the grueling tour Down Under later in the year.

The full tour programme with the Carribbean side ends on November 11 with the tour of Australia beginning 10 days after. As there is hardly any gap between the two series, India are reportedly looking to replicate Australian conditions as much as possible on home soil.

According to the Press Trust of India and the Indian Express, pitches in Rajkot and Hyderabad will have pace and carry. The idea is to challenge Indian batsmen on such wickets in match situations and give Test players an opportunity to fine-tune their game – but not on traditional Indian surfaces.

It is a strategy the Indians employed when Sri Lanka toured late last year as they set their sights on the New Year Test series in South Africa. And it blew up in their face.

In the first Test in Kolkata against Sri Lanka, India went for a green-top in Kolkata. They were bowled out for 172 and conceded a lead of 122. The match ended in a draw with Sri Lanka imploding in the second innings but the Men in Blue had been stung badly. The wickets continued to be of the ‘sporting’ variety and it cost them big time in the ODI series as they were reduced to 29-7 before being bowled out for 112 in the first ODI in Dharamsala. India lost the match.

If the Indians go down the same route against the West Indies, they can expect similar problems. The Caribbean side have a potent pace attack led by Shannon Gabriel with experienced Kemar Roach and Jason Holder providing good pace support. This is the same West Indies side that has won three out of its last five Tests, won the Leeds Test in England earlier in the year and beat Pakistan in a home and away Tests in the previous season.

Also, India are without their three best fast bowlers – with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah rested while Ishant Sharma is injured. If they try to be too adventurous, the Windies are more than capable of cashing in.

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