With India taking a 1-0 lead in the two-match Test series against the West Indies – that too in an emphatic manner – many might argue there is no chance of a comeback from the hosts. However, if one looks at the bigger picture, a result for India or West Indies or even a draw, will impact the World Test Championship (WTC) greatly.
During the first Test, West Indies skipper Jason Holder made a mistake when he chose to bowl after winning the toss. It was a good hard surface and run-making was relatively easy, but despite that, they did well to restrict India to under 300. Holder has also been vocal about how his top-order has failed miserably, which saw them get bowled out for just 100 in the fourth innings, chasing 419.
“It has been a common thing for our batsmen now. We have not been able to step up as a top-order, the middle and lower order have done an exceptional job,” Holder said. “We are behind the eight ball because we did not bat well in the first innings.”
There is no doubt that the batting is the main concern for the West Indies, which is something that they will have to address in the second Test.
While Holder hit the nail on its head when it comes to the top-order, the same cannot be said about his comments regarding the middle-order.
Their poor dismissal rate in both the graphs above is also further indication that they do not put a price on their wickets. India, on the other hand, are on the right end of both the graphs and they do not need to change much going into the second Test – neither their team nor their approach.
The tour of the Caribbean has always been a tough one especially for India, who had recorded just one series win in eight attempts till 2002. However, since then, they have registered three back-to-back series wins and the hosts stare down the barrel once again.
West Indies, however, do have a reason to cheer as their captain is ranked as the No. 1 all-rounder and thoroughly deserves the accolade. No one has been more dominant among batsmen who bat in the lower-order (8 to 11) since 2018.
Unlike a few of his teammates, Holder stands tall for considerable periods of time as indicated in his balls per dismissal. Not only does he score runs, he scores runs on a consistent basis and also does not throw his wicket away. Without a doubt, he is the best lower-order batsman in the world right now.
As far as his bowling is concerned, he has the best average (14.64) and the second best strike-rate (33.5) among bowlers who have bowled in at least 10 innings since 2018.
West Indies’ batsmen have a new nemesis in the form of Jasprit Bumrah, who blew the opposition away with his pinpoint bowling especially in the second innings at Antigua to walk away with figures of 5 for 7. He, however, managed just one scalp in the first innings.
Bumrah is a deadly bowler when he bowls around channels that would hit the wickets. In the first innings, he had just 9% of such deliveries. In the second, 16.6% of his deliveries would have gone to hit the stumps, which is perhaps the reason why he went on to pick up his fourth five-wicket haul in Tests.
West Indies have named Keemo Paul as Miguel Cummins’s replacement for the Jamaica Test. Cummins went wicketless in the first Test and Paul might come straight into the XI after recovering from his ankle injury.
The Windies also have off-spin all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall in their squad and could decide to give him a debut, depending on the conditions. Thunderstorms and cloudy weather are expected for most parts of the five days and both teams could stick to the same bowling combinations.
History beckons for Virat Kohli as a win in this Test will make him the most successful Indian Test captain. MS Dhoni had won 27 Tests in his 60 matches, while Kohli, who equalled that feat at Antigua, looks to go one better at Jamaica.
In the last 18 Tests at Sabina Park, only once has a match ended in a draw – incidentally the same fixture in 2016 – dating back to 1999. Toss will play a crucial role once again. 37.3% of the 51 Tests played at the venue have been won by the team winning the toss.
India will mostly play the same team. The only bones of contention were Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari’s places in the side. With emphatic performances in the first Test, they have closed that debate.
The last time the West Indies beat India in the longest form of the game was at Jamaica in 2002. It has been 17 years and 22 Tests since West Indies came out on top against India – something which would have been impossible to fathom before the turn of the millennium.
While West Indies cannot win the series, there is still a lot to play for, for both teams.