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India vs West Indies: Cornwall The Major Addition to Settled West Indies Test Side

Karthik Lakshmanan |August 19, 2019, 10:59 AM IST
India vs West Indies: Cornwall The Major Addition to Settled West Indies Test Side

Rahkeem Cornwall's is the major addition and big talking point around West Indies' squad for the two Test series against India. Cornwall is likely to be the centre of attraction through the series too if he makes it to the XI, given his imposing physique.

If one looks beyond that, it's easy to find why the selectors trust him for the all important series - a clash against India and the start of the World Test championship.

The off-spinning all rounder has played 55 first-class matches and picked up 260 wickets at an average of 23.90. He's handy with the bat too, averaging more than 24 with one century and 13 fifties. Two of those fifties came for West Indies A in the recently concluded series against India A; the selectors have rewarded him for consistency and form.

But it's worth noting here that Cornwall is the only addition to the squad from West Indies' previous Test series, where they defeated England at home 2-1 earlier this year.

It shows that West Indies have a settled unit, and are gradually building a strong core in the longest format. It's in Test cricket where they have had some successes in the last couple of years; they had Test victories in UAE and England too apart from the home win over England.

The settled nature of the unit is why West Indies perhaps don't have a place for Chris Gayle anymore in this format. Gayle had mentioned in the World Cup that he'd play one Test against India, but West Indies' selectors have done the right thing by sticking to the opening combination of Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell.

Brathwaite, 56 Tests old, provides experience while Campbell showed promise in the three Tests against England although he didn't score a fifty.

The middle order is packed too with the likes of Shai Hope, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Roston Chase. Hope, the No. 3, is perhaps their most crucial in the list given his technique while Hetmyer adds excitement. He too has played 13 Tests already and scored five fifties without making a century.

Bravo and Chase in particular will be looking forward to the series as they love India. Both have scored two centuries against India in Tests, with Bravo also making three half-centuries while Chase, one.

The man who holds all this together is the No. 1 Test all-rounder in the world - captain Jason Holder. He's a player that can win Test matches with both bat and ball, as England found out earlier in the year.

Holder was the highest run-scorer in the series despite playing one match fewer, thanks to his match-winning double ton in the first game. Along with wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, who too was among the runs in that series, the West Indies captain adds real depth to the batting unit.

West Indies' batting came together in that series but the matches were set up by the bowlers. They bowled England out for 77, 187 and 132 in three of the four innings of the first two Tests. It was a clear message that West Indies could rattle teams if their pitches provided help to pacers.

Kemar Roach is the key bowler, and picked up 18 wickets in that series with Holder and Shannon Gabriel providing good support. The bowling unit will miss the raw pace and promise of Alzarri Joseph, who was injured in the IPL. They do miss a quality spinner in the side, although Chase is a fine off-spinner.

The only other player apart from Joseph missing out from the squad that beat England is left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican. The team is settled and has most bases covered. But it will still be a massive task to face the No. 1 ranked side in Test cricket coming after a historic series win in Australia.

Squad: Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rakheem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach

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