We are all set for a grueling game of test series cricket, when a slightly demotivated Indian side will lock horns with a spirited West Indies side on October 4th. The two teams will meet each other at Rajkot for the first test match of the two-match test series. There’s a lot of expectations from both the sides. Both the teams are hungry and they want to win at any cost. The last test series outing for the Indian team was not a happy one. The team losing against England 4-1.
While, for the West Indies, the last test series outing was a happy one. They drubbed a miserable Bangladeshi side 2-0. With the victory, the West Indian side is definitely upbeat and the players are raring to go against a formidable Indian side that has been invincible at home in the past two-three years.
If the opening stand has been a problem for the Indian team, batting has been the main concern for the West Indies side. Apart from a few hundred against teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the West Indian batsmen have failed to score big against the bigger sides.
However, for India, the worry has been its opening partnership and the England tour fully exposed the dismal condition. As per reports, young Parthiv Shaw is set to don the opener’s hat. With his name included in India’s 12-member squad for the first test at Rajkot, it is almost certain that Shaw will don the opener’s hat and start a new partnership with KL Rahul.
The Australian tour is due in November. If India even thinks of winning the series down under, then it needs to have a strong opening partnership. The Murali Vijay-Shikhar Dhawan opening combination did not quite click in the foreign conditions. Hence the team management seems to be looking for options. Only time will tell will this move work in favor of India or will go against it.
The Number Game
The West Indies have been a formidable side since it made debut in cricket till the mid-1980s. The team was an invincible team- both on home and away from the soil. Right from their bowling to batting, everything was perfect and they used to blow away any opposition with ease. However, with time came their downfall and today the team is just a shadow of its glorious past.
The Indians and the West Indies over the years have faced each other 94 times and numbers say that the team from the Caribbean Islands have has a better hand. In the 94 tests played so far, India has won in 18, the West Indies in 30 and the remaining 46 have ended in a draw. The two teams have faced each other in Indian soil 45 times. And in all these encounters, West Indies have won 14, India 11 and 20 matches have ended in a draw.
But if we look at the records of the past one and a half decades, it has been a history of Indian dominance over the once Titans of cricket. The West Indies won a series against India way back in 2002 when it came back from 1-0 behind to hand India a 2-1 defeat. The string of victories began during Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy in 2002 after it defeated the Carl Hooper-led team in a test match, even though it lost the series.
However, things changed in 2006 when India under Rahul Dravid, defeated the West Indies 1-0 in a four-match series. Then again India won the series under MS Dhoni’s leadership 1-0 in West Indies in 2011. Later in the year, India hosted the West Indies to win the three-match series 2-0. This was followed by series wins in 2013 (2-0) and 2016 (2-0). The staggering fact is that out of the last 19 test matches played between the two nations, India has won in 10 and West Indies in 0. The remaining 9 matches have ended in a draw.
Series in Sight
Whatever happened a moment ago is a part of the history and it cannot be revived. In the same way, India might have dominated in the last 16 years and more, but it will take only a moment for rewriting history. On papers, the Indian team is better and stronger, but matches are not won on papers.
The Indian team has more experience than the West Indian team comparatively. The likes of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Chiteswar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane will be tough to be controlled and tamed by the young West Indian bowlers. Even the Indian bowlers are better than the West Indian bowlers. Even though Bumrah and Bhuvi are absent from the squad, the Indian attack looks stronger than the West Indian attack.
The West Indian team is a bunch of young players who are willing to prove their mettle in front of the world. This surely makes them a dangerous squad. The most experienced player of the team is Kraigg Brathwaite who has played 49 test matches so far. The next most experienced player is Kemar Roach who is a veteran of 48 matches. Then they have players like Kieran Powell, Shannon Gabriel, and Jason Holder, all of who can do wonders on their day.
It will be a battle of nerves when the two teams lock horns against each other at Rajkot on Thursday. Back after a humiliating defeat in England, it will not be easy for the Indian team to come out all guns blazing against the West Indies. Irrespective what the record of the past 16 years or so tells. In the recently concluded Asia Cup, India almost had a nightmarish start against a spirit Hong Kong team. And the Afghanistan team gave the team a good run of their money.
If two fresh entrant teams can scare the giants on their given days, then it is the West Indies- a team that once ruled the world of cricket. The series promises to be a good series and hopefully both the teams show some good and competitive cricket.
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