Only three days after winning a hard-fought One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia, India face the West Indies in the first Test at Kolkata. But, this time around the on-field action is not the main focus as Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test series has taken priority and game of cricket has been pushed to back seat by overentusiastic CAB officials. Nevertheless, talking from point of view of both teams, they will be eager to do well and win the series. India have made few changes to their squad from the one that beat Australia 4-0 earlier this year. Ravindra Jadeja is rested for the series due to a shoulder strain. Amit Mishra is in the squad as Jadeja’s replacement. Also, Shami Ahmed and Rohit Sharma has been rewarded for good showing in ODI series as they are drafted into the squad and Shami Ahmed, especially, has a chance to make his Test debut. Shikhar Dhawan will open the innings with Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara will take up his usual spot at No 3. Tendulkar will be at his accustomed No 4 position. Virat Kohli and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would make up the middle order spot 5 and 6 respectively. Then, there is a tough choice to be made for Dhoni between Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane as Jadeja’s spot is up for grabs considering India plays with tries and tested 4 bowlers theory. Rahane played the last Test against Australia at Delhi, but didn’t make much of an impression. On the other hand, Rohit has been in splendid form of late and he has a chance to make his Test debut. Jadeja’s absence means India don’t have the luxury of playing three spinners. Pragyan Ojha is ahead of Amit Mishra to partner Ravichandran Ashwin as the second spinner. Umesh Yadav is set to return to the Test line-up after a year of absence. It would be interesting to see if India go for Ishant Sharma, who had a torrid time in the recent ODI series against Australia, Shami, on the other hand, was impressive.
The West Indies, on the other hand, has warned there will be no place for sentiment as manager Richie Richardon has made it clear that the visitors are in no mood to hand over two easy wins. West Indies manager Richie Richardson said Tendulkar will have to earn every run he makes, with his side’s bowling attack to make as uncomfortable as possible for him. “We want to make it clear that we have come here with a mission to win the series,” Richardson said in a press conference ahead of highly anticipated first Test. “We will try our best to stop him from scoring runs. We will not let him an inch. He has to earn every run. “We all have thought about giving a fitting tribute to Tendulkar after his last Test at Wankhede. “We don’t want to reveal our plans. It will be a big surprise for him.” West Indies, since arriving in India, had a good warm-up game against Uttar Pradesh and have a side packed with impact players. Chris Gayle and Kieran Powell got runs and will open the batting. Darren Bravo is a surity at No 3, followed by wily old Shivnarine Chanderpaul at No 4, who will play his 150th Test match. He will become first West Indian to achieve that feat. Marlon Samuels, Narsingh Deonarine and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin will complete the rest of the order.
Darren Sammy, the captain may have to bat as low as No 8 as he is mainly in for his seam bowling. Veerasammy Permaul and Sheldon Cottrell might get a chance to play. Tino Best is expected to lead the attack in the absence of Roach. The challenge ofr both teams will be to keep aside all the Tendulkar-centric drama, and concentrate and cricket. Perhaps, that way they will contribute more to final series of great man. West Indies may feel as if this they are uninvited guest in to a party and are reducued to a side-show, but they are more than capable to spoil the party for hosts India. Teams: India (probable): Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Shami Ahmed. West Indies (probable): Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (c ), Veerasammy Permaul, Tino Best, Shane Shillingford. Time: 09:00 IST | 03:00 GMT Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata