With the focus now shifting to the iconic Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, the spotlight will once again be on the batsmen. This time, however, the spotlight will be to assess the fact that which batsman does well on a more sporting and treacherous wicket. The strip at Antigua was a faultless dream for any batsman as patience was the primary aspect needed to succeed on that surface. With the Sabina Park coming into the fray, though, along with patience, the true test of a batsman’s technique and skill is bound to happen.
The last time India played a test here, three individuals made their debuts, including current skipper Virat Kohli. That game is still fondly remembered for the undying charisma of the ever solid Rahul Dravid, who went on to score a magical century in India’s second innings. The test, though, ended early on the fourth day as 262 ironically turned out to be the highest total in the four innings of the game.
Traditionally, Sabina Park is infamous for its treacherous surface as the uneven and varying nature of bounce has given enough headaches to batsmen in the past. In order maintain a balance between the bat and ball, the curator hinted that a more “sporting” wicket was relayed for the second test, with even patches of grass, helping to maintain the bounce. Irrespective of that, it is bound to be a haven for pacers from both the sides.
The hosts have already made their intentions clear by handing out a maiden recall to under 19 sensation Alzarri Joseph, who recently made headlines when his vicious bouncer struck AB De Villiers on the helmet in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL). One can expect a debut for Joseph, most probably at the expense of Roston Chase, who had a mediocre outing in Antigua.
For India though, it was a near-perfect game as the visitors were on the money in all aspects. Right from opener Shikhar Dhawan’s form, to the form displayed by comeback man Mohammed Shami, everything seemed ideal. Despite a few disappointing outings for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and M. Vijay, the Indians wouldn’t worry too much.
Jamaica offers a final opportunity for India’s number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara. Since his half-century against South Africa in the Mohali test, Pujara has failed to make his starts count and now faces intense competition. With Shikhar Dhawan cementing his spot with a timely 84, ignoring Karnataka batsman KL Rahul for too long wouldn’t be advisable. Thus, a failure in the second test could potentially mean an axing in store for Pujara. It was at this very venue where Pujara’s idol Rahul Dravid, played two stellar knocks way back in 2006, considered to be his best career knocks. Who knows, Jamaica could offer the reliable Pujara with a new lease of life?
Vijay, who didn’t take field for the first test after being struck on the hand by Shanon Gabriel, took part in the practice session and is expected to open alongside Dhawan. Virat Kohli as a skipper loves to maintain the momentum of a successful side, and thereby, the same playing XI as the first test can be expected for the second game as well.
From the bowling front, all signs displayed were quite optimistic as Shami and Umesh Yadav were impeccable in their bursts. With the two pacers showing great form, the burden on the shoulders of the experienced Ishant Sharma reduces massively, which is another boon.
With bounce on offer at Kingston, the slow bowling, and spin of R. Ashwin and Amit Mishra would also be hard to ignore. Both the spinners would enjoy bowling here and the West Indies batsmen will have to be even more cautious against the duo.
India’s predicted XI for the second Test:
- M. Vijay 2. S. Dhawan 3. C. Pujara 4. V. Kohli (c) 5. A. Rahane 6. R. Ashwin 7. W. Saha 8. A. Mishra 9. M. Shami 10. I. Sharma 11. U. Yadav