Roseau: India embarks on its latest quest for the elusive World Test Championship title against the West Indies. The two-match series kicks off at Windsor Park Stadium in Dominica, where the home team is expected to face a formidable challenge. The Caribbean cricket community, still reeling from the two-time winners’ failure to qualify for the upcoming World Cup, is unlikely to find solace in Kraigg Brathwaite’s side, which has struggled to secure a Test match victory against India for 21 years.
This brief series, concluding with the 100th Test between the two teams in Trinidad the following week, marks the beginning of the next two-year World Test Championship cycle, culminating in the final in 2025. After suffering defeat in the inaugural final against New Zealand in 2021 and being outplayed by Australia in the 2023 decider just four weeks ago, Rohit Sharma’s team is expected to make no more than three changes to the side that lost by 209 runs at The Oval in London.
Cheteshwar Pujara has been dropped, and Mohammed Shami will be rested, providing opportunities for uncapped players Yashasvi Jaiswal or Ruturaj Gaikwad to stake their claim for the number three spot. In the fast bowling department, Jaydev Unadkat and Navdeep Saini are contenders to fill the void. Ravichandran Ashwin, a spinning all-rounder, is set to add to his impressive record against the West Indies, having taken 60 wickets in 11 Tests against them and averaging just over 50 with the bat, including four centuries.
In Dominica, fans eagerly anticipate the Test debut of 24-year-old Alick Athanaze, who is expected to replace injured Kyle Mayers in the middle-order. Despite the West Indies’ disappointment over their World Cup qualification campaign, all-rounder Jason Holder and fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who were part of the team, are expected to play crucial roles in containing India’s formidable batting lineup. Senior pacer Kemar Roach will lead the attack, and the decision on the composition of the bowling attack will depend on the pitch conditions.
While Windsor Park hasn’t been conducive to fast bowling, the outcome this time is uncertain as it hosts its first Test since Pakistan’s historic series win in 2017. Although the West Indies are considered underdogs and have concerns about their batting lineup’s ability to handle the Indian attack, Brian Lara, the team’s performance mentor, is hopeful that the young and inexperienced players can offer a glimmer of encouragement during these challenging times for cricket in the region.
Following the Test series, both squads will undergo significant changes for the white-ball formats. This includes three One-Day Internationals and a five-match T20 International series, with the final two matches taking place in Lauderhill, Florida, in the United States.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Raymon Reifer, Alick Athanaze, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, Joshua da Silva (wk), Rahkeem Cornwall, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican
India: Rohit Sharman (c), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ajay Jadeja, Srikar Bharat (wk), Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Jaydev Unadkat