Competitive West Indies can spring a surprise or two during India Test series

Ajit Vijaykumar 10:31 01/10/2018
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West Indies have been led well by Jason Holder (2nd, r).

The West Indies are currently placed eighth in the ICC Test rankings, just above Bangladesh. The Caribbean side are known more for their T20 flair than red-ball excellence.

And as they prepare for a two-Test series in India this week, cricket followers might expect a dominating performance by the world’s No1 team.

But looking at recent results in the longest format of the game, it is the West Indies who enter the series with form and confidence under their belt.

Jason Holder’s team have won three out of their last five Tests, lost one and drawn one. Those matches were against Sri Lanka (one win) and Bangladesh (two wins) at home but that doesn’t take anything away from their performances.

It is the same West Indies team that pulled off a Test win in 2017 in the Leeds Test in England and beat Pakistan in a home and away Test in the 2016/17 season within a six-month period.

The Windies looked in good touch against a strong Indian Board President’s XI in their warm-up match, scoring 366-7 with batsman Sunil Ambris hitting a century.

What the West Indies have is an exciting pace attack led by the burly Shannon Gabriel and which also includes captain Holder and veteran quick Kemar Roach. Add off-spinning all-rounder Roston Chase and leggie Devendra Bishoo to the group and the West Indies look a more than decent outfit.

Kohli had a great England tour as a batsman but a poor one as captain.

Kohli had a great England tour as a batsman but a poor one as captain.

What levels the playing field a bit is the absence of ace seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the Indian team. They have also dropped veteran openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, going for the untested partnership of KL Rahul and debutants Prithvi Shaw or Mayank Agarwal.

The Indians will be led by Virat Kohli who is coming from a sensational England Test tour as a batsman but a horrific one as captain after the world No1 Test team lost 4-1 when they were in clear winning position in three of the lost Tests.

There is uncertainty in the Indian ranks as they are already focusing on the Australia tour. In a short Test series, all it takes is one or two sessions to go the Windies’ way and things can unfold very quickly.

Hong Kong almost pulled off a miracle win against a strong Indian team in the Asia Cup while Afghanistan held them to a tie. The West Indies have beaten good teams home and away in the past couple of seasons. A surprise or two in India won’t be so surprising after all.

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