New Delhi: The Blue Army in white jersey is going to march on as Indian team to take on the West Indies in the first Test of the two-match series in Antigua on Thursday.
Kohli now has the chance to become the first Indian captain to clinch two-Test series wins in West Indies but it will be easier said than done this time as the home team has a much more balanced lineup than before.
Kohli is also one win away from equalling MS Dhoni’s record of most wins as Indian Test captain. The 30-year-old currently has 26 wins from 46 matches while his predecessor had 27 wins in 60. A 2-0 series win will see Kohli become India’s most successful captain in the longest format.
With a difficult choice between senior pros Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane if it opts for a fifth specialist bowler.
Unless India go with a safety-first four-bowler strategy which allows both Test and ODI vice-captain to figure in the scheme of things, one among the two would be cooling heels and it could be Rahane going by his wretched form in red-ball cricket.
If the Indian team’s think tank employs conservative strategy, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal should be opening the innings but Rahul it may be recalled was dropped for the last two Test matches in Australia with Hanuma Vihari opening the innings.
While Vihari didn’t score too many runs, he blunted the new ball attack which helped Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara to consolidate without much trouble.
If one looks at the pattern of playing XI selections, Vihari, who batted No. 3 and scored a fifty in the warm-up game against West Indies A, could once again open in the first Test if Rahul’s poor Test record during past one year is taken into account.
India however, has been in rampaging form in whites over the last three years with the best win-loss ratio in the longest format since 2016.
Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, India have won 23 and lost 8 out of the 38 Tests they have played since 2016 to end up with a win-loss ratio of 2.875 which is the best among all other Test-playing nations.
Moving over to the longest format, India have not lost a Test series against West Indies since 2002 even though the number-one ranked team is still behind in the head-to-head series records.
West Indies and India have contested in 23 Test series since 1948-49 with the Windies having won 12 times while India have 9 times.
India’s first Test series win in the West Indies came in 1971 when the Ajit Wadekar-led team beat Gary Sobers’s side in the second Test to clinch the series 1-0. It was also India’s first Test win in the Caribbean. All the other matches in that 5-Test series ended in draws leading to a historic win for India.
India and West Indies begin their campaigns in the competition on Thursday. India had whitewashed Windies in both the T20I and ODI series and is expected to do the same in the two-match Test series, which will also see the two teams beginning their campaign in World Test Championship.
Under Kohli’s captaincy, India have won 23 and lost 8 out of the 38 Tests they have played since 2016 to end up with a win-loss ratio of 2.875 which is the best among all other Test-playing nations.
Another win for Kohli will also see him overtake Sourav Ganguly’s record for the most overseas Test wins by an Indian skipper with 12. If Kohli hits a century in the next two Tests he will also equal Australia’s Ricky Ponting’s tally of 19 Test tons as a skipper.