India and the West Indies will go toe to toe in the first of a four Tests at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua.
The West Indies will be looking to gauge how far they’ve come since their 2-0 series loss against Australia toward the end of last year when they host a vastly talented Indian side.
Can Jason Holder and his men spring a surprise in the first Test or will the Indians make short work of a vastly inexperienced West Indian oufit? We’ll take a look below.
West Indies vs India | 21 July – 25 July | Sir Viv Richards Stadium | Antigua
To Win Match
West Indies 6/1 | Draw 2/1 | India 66/100
Although they’re ranked a lowly eighth in the Test rankings at the moment, the West Indies will be quietly confident heading into the first Test in Antigua against second-placed India. Limited overs cricket in the Caribbean is experiencing an upward trend and it’s only a matter of time before this translates to a stronger Test side.
This probably has a lot to do with the introduction of the Caribbean Premier League. The CPL is probably the third-best domestic franchise T20 competition in the world at the moment falling behind the IPL and Australia’s KFC Big Bash. Franchises are able to attract massive players like Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Kevin Pietersen, Ahmed Shehzad, Dale Steyn, Brad Hodge, Grant Elliot, Hashim Amla and Colin Munro.
The standard of domestic cricket in the Caribbean has long been held as the reason for the Test side’s decline in recent years. Although that seems to be changing with young West Indian players being able to learn from some of the best players on the planet with their respective franchises.
This has yet to reflect in terms of series results with the side being emphatically downed in Australia – although it’s important to remember that Warner and co are probably the best Test side in the world at the moment. This Indian side will provide yet another stern examination of the Windies’ Test credentials as they look to build for the future.
That future looks somewhat brighter than it did a few years ago, too. Players like Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite and Kraigg Brathwaite possess the mental fortitude and the talent to play at the highest level and they can only continue to learn from the likes of Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels who have been around the Test side for ages.
Carlos Brathwaite has come out this week saying that the side will need to deal with the spin onslaught that the Indian side will throw at them in conditions that aren’t dissimilar from those found in the Sub-Continent.
While we can’t really gauge the side’s progress until at least the end of the first Test, I’d like to think that West Indian cricket is on the path to recovery. One thing is for sure though, India will provide this young squad with the sternest of tests – whether or not they come through it with any degree of respectability remains to be seen.
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The Indians, as one would expect, come into this series as heavy favourites. They’re stronger in every single department and would wipe the floor with most teams in West Indian or Sub-Continent conditions.
To add to this, India haven’t lost a series, or even a Test for the matter, since their tour of the Caribbean in 2002. That West Indian side, however, contained the likes of Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Carl Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
The likes of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing up to a massively inexperienced West Indian bowling attack. Miguel Cummins was called up to the squad following Jerome Taylor’s Test retirement. With Kumar Roach still looking to get back to full fitness, the Indian top order could pile on a serious amount of runs in Antigua in conditions that will suit them down to the bones.
It’s not only the batsmen who will be looking to capitalise on these conditions, Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin will be keen to flaunt their wares on some of the most spin-friendly wickets outside of the Sub-Continent against what many would regard as a sub-par batting line-up. Expect the duo to top the wicket-taking list along with Ravindra Jadeja come the end of the series.
While the West Indies will be looking to gauge how far they’ve come since the Australian tour, the Indians will be keen to put the Islanders away with a 4-0 whitewash, and there’s no reason why they can’t. Kohli and his men are the better team in every single department and should have little trouble putting the Windies to the sword.
Verdict: India 66/100
India are simply too strong for the West Indies on paper and should have very little trouble getting beating the islanders. 66/100 represents fantastic value – you’d be silly not to get on!
Value Bet: Jason Holder to top score in the West Indies’ first innings at 16/1
With a team so susceptible to top order collapses, Jason Holder top scoring in the Windies’ first innings is actually quite a solid bet. He’s provided some fantastic rearguard performances in the past and may just sneak in here at 16/1.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.