West Indies were not expected to ‘upset’ India during their ongoing tour. Top-class teams have struggled to beat India in their backyard over the years and a spirited West Indies side was seen as no more than a sparring partner ahead of the tour to Australia later in the year.
Even so, fans expected a fight. In the two-match Test series, the Caribbean side were in the hunt for about three sessions as they lost both the Rajkot and Hyderabad Tests inside three days. India have absolutely no trouble winning at home but they decided to play on true surfaces with bounce in order to prepare their players for much tougher tests Down Under. But the West Indies batting simply didn’t put up enough resistance to put the Indian batting under any real pressure.
Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel consistently troubled the Indian batsmen with his pace while the returning Jason Holder was a class apart with the ball and bat in Hyderabad. But apart from them, and batsman Roston Chase, there was nothing to write home about.
Test cricket is anyhow not the strongest suit of the Caribbean side. That would be white-ball cricket. However, the squad for the limited overs leg of their India tour also looks bereft of any serious firepower, which means India should expect a spirited challenge and no more.
There is no Chris Gayle; and he is probably past his best anyhow. All-rounders Andre Russell (only playing T20) and Dwayne Bravo along with spinner Sunil Narine are missing. And the latest to join that list is opening batsman Evin Lewis, who withdrew from the tour citing personal reasons. The left-handed Lewis has a sensational limited overs record against India, cracking two T20 tons against the opponents. He has a career best of 176 not out in ODIs – against England.
Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Holder, Kemar Roach and Carlos Brathwaite are the only names across the ODI and T20 squads that scream experience. India are to play five ODIs and three T20s against the Caribbean side and even if they play their matches on hard surfaces, the lack of experienced quality in the opposition is unlikely to help them in their bigger goal of getting fighting fit for Australia.
The Windies might pull off an upset or two but they are unlikely to test the Indians innings after innings in the next eight games. Not the kind of ‘preparation’ you are looking for.
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