Under new head coach Anil Kumble, Team India will be starting a new chapter when they take on West Indies in a four-match Test series. Led by Virat Kohli, India will be hoping to repeat the success of their 2011 tour and give new coach a welcome gift with a series win.
After the ICC World T20, Indian Premier League and the Zimbabwe tour, this is the best opportunity for a number of players, some of who are touring the West Indies for the first time, to show their class in the longest format of the game.
India will be playing their first Test match after seven months, since the South Africa series at home, which ended in December 2015. But since then, a lot has changed.
Kohli has matured more as a batsman and skipper, and Kumble has been appointed a new coach. The duo has a great opportunity to lead India to a series win against a relatively inexperienced Windies squad.
Though the hosts are under transition, not team is easy to beat in its own backyard, so Indian players surely have their task cut out.
KL Rahul: The 24 year-old batsman from Bangalore has already made his mark in the Indian Test team. He has scored two centuries in just five Tests and has shown that he has the temperament for the longest format of the game. He was tagged as a Test specialist but showed the world that he is as good in T20s and ODIs too. He comes into the series after a solid performances in the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore and a successful ODI tour in Zimbabwe, where he scored a century on debut. Although he is behind Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan in the race to open the innings, his recent performances may make the choice difficult for the Indian think-tank.
Virat Kohli: Captain. Leader. Run Machine. Expect runs and more runs from him no matter what. West Indies pitches are more like Indian tracks and Kohli will be gearing up for something big. The Test captain has gone from strength to strength in the last few months and scored on a consistent basis. The last time he visited the West Indies, he was immature and managed just 76 runs from 5 innings but he will be looking to make amends this time around. It's been a while since he led India as MS Dhoni captained through the T20 season, but Kohli, who will captain the side for the first time in a full series outside the subcontinent, has channelled the pressure of captaincy well to not let his batting get affected.
Ajinkya Rahane: Since India no longer have the services of the deadly duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who were the top run-getters on the last tour of West Indies, the onus will be on Rahane to take the responsibility in the middle order. The Maharashtra lad is the anchor-man when the team is in trouble and has earned his stripes to be crowned the vice captain. It will also be interesting to see how he handles the extra responsibility. He had a solid series in Australia and England and will be looking to add another feather to his cap with a successful Caribbean tour.
Ravichandran Ashwin: Of late Ashwin has been criticised by cricketing pundits for not being effective outside the subcontinent. The 29-year-old from Chennai, termed the top offspinner currently by the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, will see this as a tour to answer his critics in style. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has already backed him to be a big success in the series and he should not be written off.
Ishant Sharma: Having played 68 Tests and taken over 200 wickets, he is one of the most experinced player in the Indian squad. The lanky pacer has been criticised at times for his inconsistency but coach Anil Kumble has already said that he wants the tall pacer to lead the bowling attack. The last time India were in the West indies, Ishant tore into the West Indian batting line-up and ended with as many as 22 wickets from just 3 Tests. He has had a long rest as he missed the IPL due to injury and will be fresh to lead India's bowling line-up.
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