Team India will be under pressure after they missed out on the opportunity of winning the second Test against the weak and fragile Windies side. The onus was on the bowlers to deliver goods but leaving Mohammad Shami none of the them bowled well for the visiting team. For the third Test match at St. Lucia we expect India to come back hard at West Indies. If they win the two remaining matches, India will go on the top of the ICC Test rankings, irrespective of the results in other concurrent series.
However, there are plenty of problems which needs to be solved before the start of the match. Murali Vijay, the injured opener, has been declared fit and this means that KL Rahul, the centurion in the last match, will have to sit out despite being the best Indian batsman in the last test. Cheteshwar Pujara has struggled in the series so far but it requires a gusty effort from the captain Virat Kohli to drop him and play KL Rahul in his place if he is willing to go with the best possible side.
“Cricket is a very uncertain game at times,” Kohli said when he was asked the inevitable question about the openers. “We need to look at the balance of the side. Good thing is all three openers are playing well. Bad thing is that you can only choose two between three. That is a call we need to take as management. We’ll sit down and do that. These things are not in your control, getting injured when playing well. That’s why they say injuries can really upset people and bring them down. The good thing is Vijay has been in a good headspace. He’s back to the nets and back to fielding. We’ll take a call on that. We still have to discuss that.”
Virat Kohli has always advocated the need of playing five specialist batsmen to win a Test match so stakes are high for the players to perform. In the bowling department, R Ashwin and Mohammad Shami will lead the pack as they were the standout Indian bowlers in the second Test match. Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra have been good in patches but Umesh Yadav needs some consistency under his belt.
For the West Indies, even a draw in the last match was worth celebrating as this team is playing with less experienced players. The big guns are out of the team because of their tiff with the West Indies Cricket Board and that’s why results are hard to come as far as this format is concerned. The dropping of Rajendra Chandrika is the right call as he was in awful touch. Leon Johnson, who has been part of the squad since the first Test, will take his place, and not the newly included Shai Hope. The confidence of the team is high but even they know that beating India is not their cup of tea and even some better performance in terms of batting and bowling will be welcomed by the supporters. The Windies have nothing to lose and it is going to be a remarkable achievement if they can trouble India in the third Test match.
West Indies (probable): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Leon Johnson, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Carlos Brathwaite/Alzarri Joseph, 10 Miguel Cummins, 11 Shannon Gabriel
India (probable): 1 and 2 M Vijay/KLRahul/Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 R Ashwin, 7 Wriddhiman Saha, 8 Amit Mishra/Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Umesh Yadav/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ishant Sharma
The pitch at St Lucia will offer pace and carry for the quick bowlers through the five days so we can expect plenty of wickets for the fast bowlers. Rain is expected on the first four days of the match, which can hamper the possibility of a result.
If Ashwin takes 11 wickets in St Lucia, he will be the solo fastest to 200 Test wickets; if he does so in the fourth Test at Queen’s Park Oval, he will join Clarrie Grimmett as the fastest.
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