Windies are more confident in the limited-overs format but their recent record in the red-ball cricket hasn't been at all. They have lost only one out of five Tests in 2018 and have also managed to defeat Pakistan and England in their own backyard in the last couple of years. The Jason Holder-led side are coming into this series at the back of a dominating series victory over Bangladesh, while India will still be rueing about their 1-4 defeat in England.
Virat Kohli's men will enter into this series as clear favourites and will look to sort out few of their issues ahead of the all-important Australian tour, but no way they will take this Windies team for granted. The 15-member squad that has flown from the Caribbean looks good on paper and has the potential to give India a run for their money.
Before the action starts on Thursday at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, in Rajkot let's know a little bit more about the 15 men from the West Indies who will go toe-to-toe with the top-ranked Test side.
Matches 49 | Runs 3263 | Average 37.94
With 49 Tests to his name, Brathwaite is Windies' most experienced player in terms of numbers. When he is at the crease, you can sense a tinge of calmness in the air. The right-handed opener, who made his Test debut in 2011, doesn't like to complicate things when he is in the middle. He has also represented his country twice (2010 and 2012) in the Under-19 World Cup. When it comes to batting, Windies heavily rely on Brathwaite and Shai Hope. It was Brathwaite's unbeaten scores of 142 and 60 that helped Windies pull off a historic five-wicket win over Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. The twin tons from Hope at Leeds might have stolen all the limelight but Brathwaite's knocks of 134 and 95 were equally important in Windies' famous win over England. Having scored eight hundreds and 17 half-centuries in this format, Brathwaite doesn't have a great conversion rate. In the seven Tests that he has played against India, the 25-year-old has hit four fifties but not once converted it into a century. Brathwaite will be expected to tackle India's new-ball attack, meanwhile, his solid footwork will give him a slight edge over his companions while facing spinners.
Matches 36 | Runs 1881 | Average 28.07
The left-hander took a break from cricket from July 2014 to January 2016 following a clash with the national board. He then tried his hand at baseball as he attempted to become the first professional cricketer to earn a contract in the Major League Baseball (MLB). Things didn't quite work out in the tryouts with the MLB clubs New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers and Powell had to abandon the game after a few months. After staying away from professional cricket for almost two years, he made his return in early 2016.
Known for his aggressive stroke-play, Powell made his One-Day International debut in July 2009 but could never cement his place. He made his Test debut against India in 2011 but faced the same fate in the longest format of the game. However, he did score two hundreds in the same Test against Bangladesh to become only the second batsman from West Indies to achieve this feat since Brian Lara in 2001. Since then, he has played 24 Tests but not once breached the three-figure mark. The reason he was able to make his return to the international cricket was because of his fruitful stint with the Leeward Islands in the domestic 50-over competition, where he scored over 500 runs in a season. He has constantly been getting those 20s, 30s and 40s since his return to Test cricket but Windies will hope for a much better performance from the 28-year-old in the series against India. If Powell gets going, he has the game to dominate any attack in the world.
Matches 22 | Runs 1210 | Average 31.03
Every time Hope comes out to bat, the 24-year-old is expected to score runs. Hope, who made his first-class debut in 2012-13, caught the eye of the national selectors after amassing 628 runs in nine first-class matches in the 2014-15 season. He was straightaway drafted to the Windies' Test squad but failed horribly in the first 11 games. He finally announced his arrival with twin centuries against England at Leeds that led Windies' to a famous win. However, that remains to be his only two tons till date. His technical brilliance, calm temperament, defensive technique and vivid stroke-play arguably makes him the most sound batsman in the current Windies' Test setup. Hope possesses all the tools that are required to make it big in Test cricket. He can play well both off his front foot and back foot and is gifted with a robust defence. However, he has a habit to throw his wicket away after getting off to a good start a major reason why he has failed to live up to his potential. If Hope manages to do well against India's formidable bowling attack, it will not only help his team but will also help his resume.
Matches 6 | Runs 322 | Average 26.83
The 2014 U-19 World Cup didn't go as per plan for the young batsman from Guyana. However, Hetmyer returned in the 2016 edition in Bangladesh - this time as the captain - and played a key role with fifties in the quarter-final and semi-final to lead his team to the final where they beat India to be crowned champions. He donned the whites for the first time in April 2017 but failed to convert his starts. He scored a good-looking 66 against New Zealand at Wellington last year before notching up his highest Test score of 86 against Bangladesh. With hundreds in the World Cup Qualifiers and in the series against Bangladesh, followed by a terrific stint with the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2018 Caribbean Premier League, Hetmyer has somewhat already proven his worth in the limited-over cricket, and now it's time for the 21-year-old to do the same in five-day cricket.
Matches 2 | Runs 25 | Average 6.25
Two hit-wicket dismissals and a fracture on the left-arm - Ambris' Test career got off to a worst possible start. He was part of the Windies squad that played two Tests in New Zealand in December 2017. Playing his first delivery, Ambris stepped onto the back foot against a rising ball from Neil Wagner and ended up treading onto his stumps. He was dismissed in a similar fashion in the first innings of the second Test before another short delivery from Wagner in the second dig ended his tour prematurely. Ambris didn't bog down and had a successful stint with the 'A' team. His 128 against India A at Beckenham and unbeaten 63 against Surrey in July forced the selectors to put him in the flight to India. If that wasn't enough, the right-hander smacked a 98-ball 114*, decorated with 17 fours and five sixes, against Board Presidents XI in a two-day practice match to more or less cement his spot in the playing XI for the Rajkot Test.
Matches 23 | Runs 1034 | Average 27.94
The wicketkeeper-batsman made his international debut in June 2015 after a superb 2014-15 domestic season, where he scored 615 runs in 10 matches at an average of 51.25. Before that, he featured in the 2010 U-19 World Cup where he emerged as Windies' second highest run-getter with 229 runs from six encounters at a strike-rate of more than 100. In his very first Test against Australia, Dowrich, who came in to bat with Windies struggling at 37 for 3, crafted a gritty 70 against the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. While he has already managed two Test hundreds, it was his knock of 74 and match-saving 144-run association with Roston Chase against India in the second Test at Kingston, and 60* and match-winning unbeaten 87-run stand with Brathwaite in the third Test at Sharjah that proved he belongs to this level. Dowrich has a water-tight batting technique and is more than a wicketkeeper who can 'bat'.
Jahmar Hamilton (yet to make his debut)
The 28-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman made his first-class debut in 2008 and plays for the Leeward Islands. Hamilton is no spring chicken, considering he has already played 71 first-class games in which he has scored 3319 runs at 26.98. He came to national reckoning after scores of 100, 20 and 79 in the three innings for Windies A against England Lions earlier this year. Hamilton will serve as a deputy to Dowrich in the series against India.
Matches 22 | Runs 1242 | Wickets 37
Remember a tall and lanky youngster who orchestrated an unbeaten 137 to deny India a victory in Jamaica a few years back? Playing only his second Test, Chase, who had earlier scalped 5 for 121, showed tremendous guts on the final day to save the game for his country. He was also involved in two crucial partnerships with Dowrich (74) and Holder (64*). The rare feat made Chase only the fourth West Indian to pick up a five-wicket haul and score a century in the same Test. In 2017, he amassed 403 runs in the three-match home Test series against Pakistan but couldn't save his team from going 2-1 down to the Men in Green. The 26-year-old is also a handy offspinner and will have to play an important role in India, with the tracks more favourable to the spinners.
Matches 34 | Runs 1483 | Wickets 81
Holder was given the ODI and Test captaincy at the age when he was still finding his feet in international cricket. The soft-spoken man was chosen to lead Windies out of the incessant mire. Things didn't really look good at the start and Holder too was failing to contribute with both bat and ball. However, it got better for both Holder and his team as time went by. Since the beginning of 2018, Holder has returned 28 wickets at an average of 12 in five Tests. His bowling average dropped from 38.52 to an impressive 29.36. Living up to his reputation of an all-rounder, he has also made 265 runs at 37.85 this year. While Holder has always been a decent batsman lower down the order - for example, his 103* against England in 2015 and 110 against Zimbabwe in 2017 - it's his bowling that has improved immensely. If Holder can keep his form going against India, he can inspire his team to create some magic on the land where they haven't won a Test since December 1994.
Matches 1 | Runs 13 | Wickets 3
The moment Keemo Paul's name pops up, people start talking about the mankading incident he was involved in the 2016 U-19 World Cup. The incident is well-documented but it was his skill-set with both bat and ball that helped Windies lift the title. Apart from picking up seven wickets, Paul also chipped in with 166 runs lower down the order. The 20-year-old has come a long way since that and has already made his international debut in all the three formats of the game. While he is yet to do anything substantial at this level, Paul is slowly and steadily starting to find his feet in international cricket. Now all he needs is that one breakthrough series that will do him the world of good.
Matches 48 | Wickets 163 | Average 28.31
He is quick, he is hostile, and if in the mood, Roach has all the ingredients to demolish any batting attack. He might not be as tall some of the earlier West Indian greats, but Roach has the pace to push any batsman on the back foot. He made his Test debut in 2009 but it was his spell against Ricky Ponting in the third Test at WACA that forced everyone to sit up and take notice. Roach bowled at a fearsome pace and forced Ponting to retire hurt after hitting him on the elbow. He looked impressive throughout the series and hurried most of the Australian batsmen. His first and only (till date) 10-wicket haul also came against Australia in 2012 in Trinidad. While the other Windies pacers kept fading away, Roach managed to hold his ground. However, an ankle injury slowed him down and Roach was dropped from the home Tests against India. He then picked up 23 wickets at 16.17 in the 2016-17 Professional Cricket League and made his way back to the team. Roach has only played one Test against India where he took just two wickets but Virat Kohli and Co. will be well aware of the threat the right-arm pacer can cause when in full flow. He might not get the same bounce here in India but Roach has the tendency to hit the length that allows the ball to skid on to batsmen quicker than they realise.
Matches 37 | Wickets 111 | Average 29.57
Gabriel was one of the 15 players picked for a stint at the Sagicor West Indies Cricket High Performance Centre, founded by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to improve the quality of young cricketers. It didn't take much time for Gabriel to make his first-class debut and he straightaway made an impact by picking up 33 wickets in the 2010-11 season. Making his Test debut in May 2012, Gabriel didn't have a great start to his career. However, it all changed in 2016 when the right-arm quick scalped his maiden five-wicket haul against Pakistan and played a key role in his team's victory at Sharjah. He was brilliant in 2017 where he managed 34 wickets in nine Tests, including a match-figure of 9 for 92 against Pakistan at Bridgetown and a six-wicket haul versus England at Leeds. His match-tally of 13 for 121 against Sri Lanka in June made him only the third West Indian to pick up 13 or more wickets in the match after Michael Holding (14 for 149) and Courtney Walsh (13 for 55). He's got the knack of picking up wickets and will have to be at his best against India's Herculean batting lineup.
Matches 32 | Wickets 106 | Average 36.24
The legspinner bagged the ICC Emerging Player Award in 2011 and had a very good first year. He claimed 39 wickets in his first year before that dreadful Australian tour happened. He only played one Test there and leaked 125 runs without picking up any wicket. He soon fell out of favour and the likes of Shane Shillingford and Sunil Narine took his place. He finally got his chance after three years and took his maiden 10-wicket haul against Pakistan in Dubai. He has been the part of the Windies Test squad since then and has done a decent job for his team. There hasn't been any other spinner from the country in the last couple of years who has shown signs of taking over from Bishoo. The 32-year-old will get mouth-watering pitches in India and the onus will be on him to make full use of it.
Matches 4 | Wickets 11 | Average 46.27
The left-arm spinner made his Test debut in October 2015 but after four futile outings was dropped from the squad. He was handed a red-ball contract by Cricket West Indies in January this year, indicating that he remained very much part of their plans. Warrican has spent his last few months with the 'A' team. While his numbers aren't great, he did pick up 4 for 81 in a warm-up game against Sri Lanka. If required, he will offer Windies a second-specialist spin option behind Bishoo.
Sherman Lewis (yet to make his debut)
The 21-year-old right-arm pacer was called up to the squad in place of injured Alzarri Joseph. Lewis made his first-class debut for the Windward Islands last March and ended the season with 30 wickets at an average of 21.66 He went to England with Windies A and impressed everyone with four-fers in both innings against India A at Beckenham. In the two-day practice match against Board Presidents XI, Lewis returned 1 for 13 from 10 overs.
Devendra BishooIndia vs West Indies 2018Jahmar HamiltonJason HolderJomel WarricanKeemo Paulkemar roachKieran PowellKraigg BrathwaiteRoston Chaseshai hopeShane DowrichShannon GabrielSherman LewisShimron HetmyerSunil Ambris
First Published: October 1, 2018, 3:29 PM IST