India completed a clinical win in Antigua to kick off their Test Championship like they would have wanted to. The bowling came together perfectly especially the fast men who demolished the West Indian batting line up with an excellent display of pace and control. Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Shami shared 18 wickets between them and have reinforced their status of one of the best pace bowling combinations in the world. Ravindra Jadeja who played as the lone spinner did not have to do much with the ball but contributed well as a batter with a crucial 58 in the first innings.
The only concern for India would be the openers. KL Rahul got off to starts on both the innings but did not kick on to big scores and Mayank Agarwal struggled to get going. The opening combination will be under scrutiny once again as it has been over the last year or so. The middle-order for sure has been boosted by the return to form of Ajinkya Rahane and the enterprising young Hanuma Vihari. The Indian team though aren’t expected to make any changes to the XI, which means that Ravichandran Ashwin will find himself on the sidelines once again.
For the hosts though batting is a big concern. The way the Indian pacers dismantled their batting line up in the second innings will be something that will bother the West Indian camp. Jason Holder did not mince words when he criticized his top order and challenged them to take more responsibility. The bowling attack or West Indies though did well once again. Kemar Roach was the pick of the bowlers but West Indies will be hoping for a better showing from Shannon Gabriel who wasn’t consistent with the ball in either inning.
West Indies have brought back all-rounder Keemo Paul in the place of Migeul Cummins who had a poor game in Antigua but again the rest of the XI should remain same.
KL Rahul (India): India’s opening combination has been a problem in Tests for the last couple years now and at Sabina Park, it is imperative that India get a good opening stand. KL Rahul is the most experienced opening bat for India in the current squad and his performance at the top will reduce the burden on the middle order.
Ishant Sharma (India): Ishant has been one of the best bowlers in the world over the last 2 years in particular. He averages just over 21 and has picked up wickets as well with a great strike rate. He bowled brilliantly in Antigua taking 8 wickets and he will once again be a crucial part of Indian pace attack.
Darren Bravo (West Indies): West Indies batting has been struggling and had a horror game in Antigua. Darren Bravo is the most experienced bat for the hosts and his average is the best in Tests right now in the current squad. He would need to guide the young players around him and also score big to help his team to put up a better show in the second Test.
Kemar Roach (West Indies): Kemar Roach has been bowling brilliantly over the past few months and he will continue to be West Indies’s go-to bowler in the second Test as well. Roach though will hope to get more help from the rest of the pacers in the team in Jamaica.
What they said?
“(I’m) very disappointed, but there are a lot of things I’m doing right, lot of positives too. I just have to keep my head down and show some more patience. I just have to prolong the good things I’m doing till I get to 35 or 45. I’ve been batting well, I’ve looked comfortable in both the innings, my headspace, and everything is very good. I’m happy about a lot of things, just if I can keep my patience and keep batting the way I do in the first 60-80 balls, if I continue to do that for 200-250 balls then it’ll obviously benefit me and the team. That’s what I’ll look to do next match.” Said KL Rahul about not converting his starts.
“We fell short quite a few runs and I think the wicket was very good for the batting. At the initial phase, when the ball is new, it is difficult as a batsman to sustain, but after that it becomes easy. We did not get enough runs in this game.” Said a disappointed Jason Holder after their first Test loss.
Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (Wkt), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
West Indies XI:
Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach.
Sabina Park historically is a venue which assists pace bowlers and both teams have a good set of fast men to take advantage of the conditions. The batting of the hosts is a concern and the Indian pace attack will be really licking their lips at the prospect of bowling at them once again. The West Indian attack even though good hasn’t shown the consistency they displayed against England earlier this year and that will be something Captain Holder will be looking for. This will be a good game but it will be hard to bet against India making it 2-0 at the end of this match.