The Indian team was criticised for making too many changes in England and as it panned out, openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan lost their place in the side for the home series. Even India’s second Test triple-centurion Karun Nair, who warmed the bench in England, was ignored for the West Indies series, triggering an intense selection debate.
What is certain is that a brand new opening combination will be tried in the next couple of games with KL Rahul opening with uncapped talent Prithvi Shaw.
The series does provide a good opportunity to Shaw and another uncapped player, Mayank Agarwal, who had been waiting for a call-up to the Indian side for quite some time.
In the bowling department, India are expected to play three spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav – and Umesh Yadav will pair up with Mohammad Shami, who will lead the pace attack in the absence of the rested duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and an injured Ishant Sharma.
Jadeja will be expected to perform with both bat and ball in the absence of an injured Hardik Pandya.
After a successful ODI comeback with the Asia Cup, Jadeja will be raring to go on his home ground. Another man who will be itching to take the field will be Rishabh Pant, who expectedly retained his place after a memorable 114 at The Oval in his debut series in England.
Hanuma Vihari, who too impressed at The Oval with a fighting 56 on debut, will not feature in the XI as the team fields five specialist bowlers (three spinners and couple of pacers). There is abundance of talent in the Caribbean outfit too but it lacks the experience required to be competitive in India.
Only five players in the 15-man squad have played a Test in India and to make matters worse, one among them – lead pacer Kemar Roach- will be missing the series-opener due to the death of his grandmother back in Barbados.
The others who have played in India are Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell and Shannon Gabriel. In fact, the West Indies will be playing a Test in India for the first time since November 2013, when they had become part of Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series.
India (12): Virat Kohli (capt), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Sherman Lewis, Keemo Paul, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican.
The match starts at 9.30 am IST.
(With PTI inputs)
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)