They haven’t won a Test against India in 21 years, but the Queen’s Park Oval pitch might change that.
The big picture
It’s a historic moment. The second Test between the West Indies and India will be the 100th between the two teams in Port-of-Spain. The West Indies have won 30 games, India has won 23, and the remaining 46 have been drawn.
However, in the last 21 years, the West Indies have not won a single match against India. Their previous victory occurred in 2002, when Yashasvi Jaiswal, the current series’ Player of the Match, was just five months old.
Since then, the two teams have clashed 24 times, with India winning 15 times and drawing nine. Given how the first Test went, with India winning by an innings and 141 runs, the West Indies will have to work hard to break the streak.
Having said that, this may be one of their best opportunities. The Queen’s Park Oval ground has always been favorable to fast bowling, and the West Indies have a significantly more experienced seam-bowling attack in this match.
For the next five months, neither the West Indies nor India will play another Test match. Apart from collecting World Test Championship points, both teams will be eager to make the most of this occasion. The West Indies will be looking for some consistency with the bat, while India will be hoping that Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan spend some time in the middle.
West Indies LLLWD (last five Tests, most recent first)
In the spotlight
When Alick Athanaze topped the Under-19 World Cup running chart in 2018, the world took note. He hit the joint-fastest fifty by a hitter on his ODI debut last month against the UAE. Then, on his Test debut last week against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a turning pitch, he demonstrated that he was also prepared for the lengthy format. With wickets falling at the other end, he led the West Indies in both innings, scoring 47 and 28. The West Indies will be hoping he proves Ian Bishop right when he says he can be “a leading light in the years to come.”
Shubman Gill finished second in the U-19 World Cup, where Athanaze was the leading run-scorer, and was named Player of the Tournament. While Athanaze took five years to make his international debut, Gill is already regarded as Virat Kohli’s heir apparent. By asking to be moved down to No. 3 in the first Test, he made another step in that direction; analysts believe the middle order is his natural home. However, a failure in India’s only innings in Dominica dropped his average to 31.96 after 17 Tests. The good news is that he has all the time in the world and the support of the team management.
With Raymon Reifer out, left-handed batter Kirk McKenzie might make his debut. The West Indies may also consider bringing in Shannon Gabriel in place of Jomel Warrican or Rahkeem Cornwall. Meanwhile, uncapped offspin bowling allrounder Kevin Sinclair will be on standby as a like-for-like alternative for Cornwall if he does not recover entirely from his chest ailment.
West Indies: 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), 2 Tagenarine Chanderpaul, 3 Alick Athanaze, 4 Jermaine Blackwood, and 5 Kirk McKenzie (probable). 7 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 8 Rahkeem Cornwall/Kevin Sinclair, Jason Holder 9-year-old Alzarri Joseph, 10-year-old Kemar Roach, and 11-year-old Shannon Gabriel/Jomel Warrican
Two days before the Test, India captain Rohit Sharma stated that he would not make “any drastic changes.” He also praised Ishan Kishan, saying he was “very impressed” with his glovework. As a result, it will not be surprising if India fields an unchanged XI.
India (probable) 1st XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), 2nd XI: Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3rd XI: Shubman Gill, 4th XI: Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, No. 5 Ravindra Jadeja, No. 6 Ishan Kishan (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, and 11 Mohammed Siraj batted.
Pitch and conditions
While the Queen’s Park Oval has not hosted a Test since 2018, fast bowlers have always preferred the conditions here, posting a significantly higher average (27.39) and strike rate (61.0) than spinners (36.57 and 88.7). However, rain is expected on all five days of the Test.
Stats and trivia
- Kohli (8555) needs 32 runs to break Virender Sehwag’s Test record of 8586. Only Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar, and VVS Laxman have more Test runs than him.
- Ashwin is 14 wickets shy of 500 Test wickets.
- Athanaze became only the second West Indian hitter in history to top-score in each inning of his Test debut in Dominica. Lawrence Rowe was the first, scoring 214 and 100 not out against New Zealand at Sabina Park in 1972.
- At Queen’s Park Oval, India has won three of its 13 Tests. If they win here again, it will be their joint-most successful overseas Test venue, along with the MCG.
- The other two teams are England and Australia. The West Indies and India have played each other 100 times in Tests.
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