West Indies v India
Thursday 22 August 14.30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Windies look to build on England blitz
West Indies have tinkered with the squad which was hugely impressive in beating England 2-1 on their last outing. Out go Oshane Thomas and Jomel Warrican. Thomas could do with a rest after impressing in the World Cup. Rahkeem Cornwall, the all-rounder, has been added.
Otherwise faces should be familiar. Jason Holder will lead by example with ball and bat while Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer offer sublime strokeplay. Hetmyer is the West Indies' top runscorer over the last 12 months followed by Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich. None of them are averaging more than 37 though.
Kraigg Brathwaite has suffered a major malfunction in form and he is averaging only 14 over the same study period. His place could well be under threat with John Campbell and Darren Bravo perhaps offering more stickability.
Roach, with a strike rate of 39 in the last 12 months, Shannon Gabriel and Holder (36) are a potent pace trio. Chase's role is to give the fast men a rest and keep an end tight.
India look strong
India's last Test action was a famous 2-1 win in Australia and they have a wealth of options with bat and ball with which to attack West Indies. When you consider who they could leave out, they look a very strong unit.
Rohit Sharma, for example, is not a certain starter with Mayank Agarwal surely to be given the chance in the opening berth to build on his two fifties in two outings Down Under. KL Rahul could join him. Chet Pujara, a run machine in that series, bats at No 3 followed, of course, by Virat Kohli.
Ajinkya Rahane, the vice-captain, or Rohit could be in a battle for a middle-order slot. Rish Pant, a centurion last time in Sydney, will probably hold off a challenge from Wriddi Saha. Bits and pieces all-rounder Hanuma Vihari could be some glue at No 7. Or they will pair Ravi Jadeja with chief spinner Ravi Ashwin.
Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami, all excellent in Australia, are more than a match for the Windies batsmen.
Windies look to build on England blitz
Not including the aborted West Indies-England game in 2009, there have been six Tests played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. Two have ended in draws. The first-innings scores (most recent first) read: 187-43-566-399-351-479. England were rolled for that 187 in a ten-wicket hammering in January. England were bowled out for 132 in the third innings. West Indies made 302 in their first dig. Given what we know about England's batting woe, it's probably best not to get carried away with the idea this is some sort of terror track, despite Bangladesh's 43.
Indeed, India have good memories of North Sound. In 2016 they won by an innings and 92 runs after amassing 566 for eight declared.
Hosts need to be fired up
India are hot favourites to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series at no better than [1.42]. West Indies are [5.1] and the draw [9.40].
The home team's best chance is if they can magic up three factors. Firstly, the spirit and tenacity that rolled England, extreme pace and bounce from Roach and Gabriel respectively and India's problems playing away from home returning. In the first Test of an away series, India have won three of their last eight with four losses.
India, obviously, are going to have to suffer a bad few days to get beat here. Pound for pound they are superior, as no defeats in their last 14 on the head-to-head proves. A little bit of a nibble on the Windies price if they bowl first (chin music will be the order) and get among their opponents could give us an interest, though. Back at [5.0] or better and look to lay off at around [3.0]. For more on trading on the Exchange, check out our ‘how-to' guide.
Hetmyer, topping those run charts, catches the eye at 5s from Betfair Sportsbook about him topping for the Windies in the first dig. Dowrich, at 8s, and Holder at 20s are probably overrated, too. Windies bat pretty deep and you're never quite through them as quick as you think you are as a bowling outfit.
For India, Kohli gets 2/1 jolly status. Fair enough considering he smashed a double ton in that 2016 contest. But Pujara looks chunky at 7/2. He is reliability personified once the new ball has gone soft.