Our cricket writer previews the the upcoming second Test between the West Indies and India due to be played at Sabina Park, Jamaica.
The West Indies will look to redeem themselves following their innings and 92 run drubbing at the hands of India last week.
Jason Holder and his men have had a bit of time to regroup now and need to put in a better performance against their Indian counterparts at Sabina Park in Kingston Jamaica.
West Indies vs India | 30 July – 3 August | Sabina Park | Kingston, Jamaica
To Win Match
West Indies 6/1 | Draw 5/2 | India 5/10
Where to here for the West Indies? They suffered their first ever innings loss at the hands of India on home soil after looking absolutely clueless against a formidable top order, as well as being completely unable to deal with the guile and skill of Ravichandran Ashwin.
So toothless was the West Indies bowling attack, that the selectors have decided to call up the uncapped Alzarri Joseph to the squad. The 19-year-old quick shone at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, however, he’s only played 12 matches at senior level for the Leeward Islands, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and the WICB President’s XI. While the youngster definitely has a future in West Indian cricket, I don’t know how wise it’ll be to have bowl at the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli – a drubbing at the hands of one of the best top orders in world cricket is not something any 19-year-old wants to experience.
What his inclusion in the squad does bring is another genuine pace option. The West Indies hamstrung themselves in the first Test when Shannon Gabriel was picked as the only out-and-out pace option, supported by the medium pace of Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite.
While they may have added a bit of steel to their bowling attack, the Windies’ current crop of batsmen will have to show just a little bit more fight. While they weren’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, they’ll need more from the middle order four of Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood and Roston Chase. The four of them only managed a total of 102 runs between them in both innings.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however, with the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich, Marlon Samuels and Carlos Brathwaite getting half-centuries in the match. What they need going forward is for scores like these to be converted into big centuries – get this right, and the islanders could well be in business.
Going ahead, the big worry for the Windies is their bowling attack. If they can claim a few of India’s scalps early on, they could well be in with a chance – that scenario seems unlikely though against a formidable Indian top order.
The men from the Sub-Continent will be buzzing following their biggest ever win outside of Asia, albeit against one of the weakest bowling attacks in Test cricket at the minute. It was a week of records for Virat Kohli and his players. Ashwin became the first Indian player to claim a five-wicket haul and century on two occasions while Wriddhiman Saha became the first Indian wicketkeeper to effect five or more dismissals in a Test innings in the West Indies.
Ashwin and Kohli were the real heroes for the Indians as both men batted superbly while the former tore through the West Indies’ batting line-up in the second innings. The performance saw the off-spinning all-rounder pick up the man of the match accolade while also propelling to the top of the ICC Test bowling rankings.
While we’re on the subject of rankings, it’s interesting to note that no Indian batsmen feature in the top 10 of the batting rankings. In fact, Kohli – the highest ranked Indian – finds himself in twelfth place behind the likes of Angelo Matthews and Younus Khan. A few more double-hundreds though, and he could well find himself breaching the top 10.
It’s not just Kohli that the West Indian bowlers will need to be weary of. Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay all average over 40 in Tests and will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing up to a rather tame West Indian attack.
Looking ahead, the Indians really shouldn’t have too much trouble in getting past their vastly inferior opposition. This, coupled with the fact that West Indian conditions are so similar to those found on the Sub-Continent means that India will feel right at home in Kingston where the wicket will likely be slow and low, favouring the spinners from around the third day. Keep an eye on Ashwin and Amit Mishra who are both likely to cause a bit of damage.
Verdict: India at 5/10
India are simply too strong for the West Indies team as we saw quite clearly in the first Test in Antigua. They should come through this game comfortably, and at 5/10 you’re getting some outstanding value here.
Value Bet: Ajinkya Rahane to top score for India (First inn) at 6/1
He didn’t have the best of times in the first Test and will be looking to improve in Jamaica. He is probably India’s best Test batsman behind Kohli and could provide a nice little pay day at 6/1. If you’re not feeling too confident on this bet, you can back Kohli at 9/4 fairly confidently.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.