West Indies vs India: Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and others with a point to prove in Test series

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Rohit Sharma has a chance to consolidate his Test spot.

It is the season of Test cricket around the globe with the Ashes series between and England dominating all headlines over the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, another Test battle is set to begin in the Caribbean on Thursday with the West Indies and India about to lock horns in a two-match series.

It will be the first assignment for both teams in the inaugural World Test Championship and there will be 120 valuable points at stake across the two matches.

As the two sides prepare to square off, we look at the three players from each side who will be eager to put in a big performance in the upcoming series.

WEST INDIES

Rahkeem Cornwall

Cornwall picked up 54 first-class wickets in nine games in 2018-19.

Cornwall picked up 54 first-class wickets in nine games in 2018-19.

The stocky off-spinner used to weigh over 140kgs at one point in his professional career but he is now all set to make his Test debut for the hosts after consistently picking up wickets in the West Indies’ first-class tournament over the past three seasons.

Cornwall finished as the highest wicket-taker in the 2018-19 first-class season in the Caribbean with 54 scalps at an average of less than 18. The 26-year-old has also impressed against England A and India A recently in both first-class and List A cricket and he will be eager to leave his mark in the upcoming series if given the chance.

Cornwall is also a handy lower-order batsman and can chip in with some important runs.

Shamarh Brooks

It could be a Test debut at the age of 30 for Brooks who has been handed a maiden West Indies call-up following his impressive displays for Barbados and West Indies A in recent months.

An all-rounder who can bowl some handy leg-spin, Brooks has formerly been the captain of the West Indies U19 team before progressing through the ranks in domestic cricket.

It has been an unfulfilling senior career so far for the right-hander but he now has a chance to finally make his mark at the international level and he will be desperate to do so at any cost.

Shai Hope

Hope has failed to build on his 2017 Edgbaston twin tons.

Hope has failed to build on his 2017 Headingley twin tons.

The 25-year-old has always carried plenty of promise ever since he broke through as a junior cricketer, but his senior career hasn’t exactly materialised as hoped.

Hope has been able to step up finally in the ODI format over the past 18 months or so but he comes into the Test series on the back of a less-than-satisfactory World Cup and a woeful display in the recent ODI clashes against India.

Hope looked to be finally coming into his own in the Test format in 2017 when he registered tons in each innings of the Headingley clash against England to help pull off a sensational win for the Windies.

However, he has gone off the boil since with his average hovering around the 20-run mark in the past two years.

INDIA

Ajinkya Rahane

Rahane's reliability has been decreasing.

Rahane’s reliability has been decreasing.

The India middle-order stalwart no longer looks the reliable batsman he once was in overseas conditions with his performances dropping drastically over the last two years or so.

Batting averages of 34 and 30 respectively in 2017 and 2018 are hardly the kind of returns India want from their vice-captain and Rahane will need to arrest this slide as soon as possible if he wants to remain a part of the Test set-up.

He did register a desperately needed half-century in the ongoing warm-up clash against the West Indies A but Rahane will know that he needs a big performance in the two-Test series in the Caribbean.

Rohit Sharma

While Rahane is battling to save his place in the Test squad, Rohit Sharma will look to consolidate his after being handed an extended run in the red-ball format for India.

The India limited-overs deputy captain has made just six Test appearances since the turn of 2017 but his consistency in white-ball cricket has paved the way for another Test call-up.

Rohit averages a decent 39.63 in the format so far but his performances in overseas Tests, especially against the moving ball, have been suspect and he will need to allay those fears in the West Indies if he wants to become a permanent fixture in India’s red-ball set-up.

KL Rahul

Rahul has already been given a long rope in the Test side.

Rahul has already been given a long rope in the Test side.

The Karnataka-born batsman was excellent for India in Tests in 2016 and 2017 but it has all been downhill for him ever since. He was particularly disappointing in India’s spate of overseas tours last year and did nothing of note bar his one innings of 147 in a dead-rubber clash against England at The Oval.

It always seems to be the last chance saloon for Rahul but the selectors inexplicably find a way to call him back in to the side despite his deteriorating standards and form. There is no doubt that the right-hander is one of the most magnificent batsmen to watch when in full flow but those instances have been too few and far in between over the last two years.

With Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal and a suspended Prithvi Shaw all competing for the openers’ slot, time is definitely running out for Rahul to save his spot in the side.

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