Ruthless India eyes clean sweep over touring Windies

India being 1-0 up in the series now looks to put West Indies under more pressure in the second Test in Hyderabad.

India wrapped up the first Test inside three days with an innings and 272-run win.   -  AP

The first Test between India and West Indies in Rajkot was a contest between two contrasting teams. While for the host, it was a chance to ponder about the promise the future holds, for the Windies, it was a case of being stuck between abiding tales of 'what-was' and 'what-could-have-been'. 

Before Rajkot, West Indies had played 94 Tests against India, winning 30 and losing 18. However 11 of those 18 losses have come in the last 20 years; the innings and 272-run defeat, therefore, hardly came as a surprise.

India named an unchanged 12-man shortlist on the eve of the second Test which means Mayank Agarwal will have to wait for that elusive Test debut.

Read: 'Don't think Prithvi should be rushed into anything'

With India's high profile tour of Australia not far off, and Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay struggling for form,  selectors might even consider Shaw or Hanuma Vihari as possible opening options.

K.L. Rahul may have played himself back into contention with a big hundred in the last Test match against England,  but his mediocre average of 14.12 in the first four Test matches there, and a first over duck on the opening day of the first Test against the Windies has left plenty to be wanted.

Meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane, despite a fighting 92-ball 41 in the first innings of the first Test, has had his share of trouble while playing at home.

His 398 runs scored in 12 home Tests at a rather measly average of 20.94 belies the class of a batsman, who for long, has been touted as India's biggest strength in the middle-order. He might want to set the record straight here.

If it is three fast bowlers for India, Shardul Thakur, being the third quick in the twelve, could make his debut on Friday.

 

Draw and pride to play for

West Indies' Roston Chase and Kieran Powell put up a semblance of a fight last week with both scoring fifties in the first and second innings respectively, but the lack of resistance from the rest once again brought to the fore a familiar failing for West Indies. 

Its batsmen were guilty of gifting away wickets in search of aggressive shots. In Hyderabad, they would hope to strike the right balance between caution and aggression.

That said, the team — despite being pushovers in Rajkot — could draw inspiration from the Test win against England at Leeds, where chasing a rather intimidating 322, the visitor won after losing the opening Test at Edgbaston.

Shai Hope and Kraig Brathwaite both had hundreds in the fourth innings, with captain Jason Holder chipping in with a quickfire 43. The Hyderabad wicket isn't known for being a raging turner, so hopes of a riposte can't be ruled out, yet.

Also read: 'Prithvi was 'unbelievable' in his Test debut'

Among the bowlers, the story has been similar with all save Kraig Brathwaite (3.40) conceding more than four runs an over in Rajkot. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo picked up four but leaked 217 runs in 54 overs.

The return of regular skipper Holder, who missed the Rajkot Test with an ankle injury, will bolster the bowling. Lead pacer, Kemar Roach too, is set to be available for the second Test after missing the opening encounter because of a bereavement in the family. Roach's inclusion is expected to add the missing bite to the Windies pace attack.

Its bowling discipline and incision undoubtedly need shoring up, especially against a line-up that boasted three centurions in the first Test in skipper Virat Kohli, debutant Prithvi Shaw and local boy Ravindra Jadeja, and two others — Cheteshwar Pujara (86) and Rishabh Pant (92) — who narrowly missed their hundreds.

This hardly qualifies as ideal preparation for the Tour Down Under, due to the sheer gulf between the two sides, but a 2-0 scoreline for India will perhaps go some distance in soothing the pain of the 4-1 humbling in England.