Can Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane be back with a bang?
Test specialists will look to be among the runs v WICB XI before series begins
Coolidge (Antigua): Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane along with a well-rested Jasprit Bumrah will be aiming for some quality game time when India take on West Indies Cricket Board XI in a three-day warm-up game starting today ahead of two-match series."
With skipper Virat Kohli sustaining a right thumb injury during the third ODI, the team management would like to exercise precaution and may be rest their best player before World Test championship opener.
Kohli in top form
Kohli has been in phenomenal form and has led India from the front in the limited-overs series. After scoring 106 runs in the three T20s, Kohli garnered 234 runs, including two centuries, in the two ODIs while the first one-dayer was called off due to rains after playing 13 overs.
After whitewashing West Indies 3-0 in the T20 International series, India continued their winning spree and pocketed the three-match ODI rubber 2-0. A win in the Test series starting August 22 will be the first time that India would have won across all formats on Caribbean soil.
For one of India's batting mainstays in longest format, Pujara will be playing a competitive red ball game after a good six months having last appeared in the Ranji Trophy final for Saurashtra a good six months back.
Rahane, skipper Virat Kohli's deputy in this format, didn't exactly set the English County on fire scoring only 307 runs in seven games with a hundred and a fifty and sub-par average of 23.61. He has had a prolonged bad patch in Tests too and this tour will be crucial him. A good hit in the warm-up is the kind of start he would be looking at.
Bumrah's back too
Bumrah, who had a strenuous six months till World Cup has now freshened up and the practice game would be more about getting some rhythm back after a month-long rest.
On the batting front, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant would desperately look for runs after a below-par limited overs leg. Rishabh for one would be more keen on a hit as his understudy Wriddhiman Saha has already hit two half centuries in the 'A' games and is no doubt considered a far better 'keeper.
Mayank Agarwal is certain to open in the Tests but it will be a toss up between Hanuma Vihari (originally a middle-order batsman) and KL Rahul, who has not been in best of forms in this format.
Pacers Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma too would look to impress the team management with a fine show in the practice game ahead of the two Tests.
India's spin department is expected be led by the duo of off-spinner R Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Lara, Sarwan to work with WI Test batsmen
North Sound (Antigua): The legendary Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan will work with West Indies batsmen ahead of the first of the two Test matches against India.
Lara, one of the greatest batsmen of all-time, and Sarwan, who was one the leading players of his generation from the Caribbean, will be part of the pre-series camp, to be held in Antigua ahead of the first Test match against India.
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