India are back in familiar territory — warm conditions, sluggish surface, and a red SG ball. The No. 1 Test side enters the series against West Indies as overwhelming favourites. The selectors and the team management already have an eye on the upcoming tour to Australia, but West Indies cannot be taken lightly by any means.
Hindustan Times takes a look at the team Virat Kohli could lead when he walks out at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot:
He was given an extended rope in England and finally repaid the faith at the Oval with a century, which people expected for a very long time. KL Rahul will be the senior member of the side and should take the pressure in his stride. A tough examination against a highly-skilled West Indies new-ball attack awaits him.
The young prodigy was drafted into the Indian squad for the final two Tests in England and should walk out to face the new ball along with Rahul. Prithvi Shaw has made all the right noise so far, but his examination at the highest level begins now. Exciting times, yes, but how he deals with the pressure could well define his career.
In the extremely tough conditions in England, Cheteshwar Pujara looked relatively secure and managed to score some runs. He is now in his backyard, in his bubble and he will look to pile on the runs and then some more. With the Australian tour coming up, this is just the perfect series for Pujara to get back into run-scoring mode.
Head and shoulder above the rest in England — and then rested for Asia Cup — Indian captain Virat Kohli will walk out with the same purpose. He has to take guard all over again, but he is a champion and his ability to start from where he left in the previous innings is what makes him special. The Windies attack has all the bases covered and there is little doubt, that Kohli will be the biggest prize.
He looked good and then looked very mediocre in the series against England. However, Rahane is still India’s vice-captain in this format and is part of the engine room and India needs runs from the right-hander. An in-form Rahane will be a massive boost when the team embarks for the tour of Australia.
The Andra Pradesh-boy was handed a debut in Southampton and showed grit and determination to play out the tough phases to register a fighting half-century and this should give him a long rope. Runs in this series could see him nail down this spot for the rest of the year and the next.
There is so much excitement around Rishabh Pant and he showed why when he slammed his maiden century at the Oval. He trained at the NCA to help him keep against the spinners and on sluggish surfaces, his counter-attacking batting could be a real treat.
After a stellar start in the first Test at Edgbaston, Ashwin slipped away. Wickets dried up and then injury struck. Not a very pleasant end to the series for him and now he would want to make a pertinent point in this series to grab the number one spinner’s baton once again.
It was a good September for Ravindra Jadeja. He was impressive in the final Test against England, both with the bat and ball. He was called up for the Asia Cup as a last-minute replacement for Hardik Pandya and created an immediate impact. Exuding confidence, he will now bowl on helpful pitches and the competition with R Ashwin to take the number one spinner’s tag when the team leaves for Australia will make the battle all the more interesting.
For all his skills, Mohammed Shami blew hot and cold in England and yet on his day can be the match-winner for Kohli and this could be another opportunity for him to underline his credentials.
Another debut could be handed to seamer Mohammed Siraj who has been in great wicket-taking form in domestic cricket. He has knocked down the door to force the selectors to pick him and this is when Kohli should throw the new ball to him and give him the freedom to run in and bowl fast.
From online sources