After a fighting performance by the West Indies in Jamaica, the focus now shifts to the much calmer and the rejuvenating island of St. Lucia. Going into the third test of the series, the hosts will head with a lot of momentum, thanks to the heroics of newcomer Roston Chase. Chase was impeccable, to say the least as he battled it out in the middle on the last day to salvage a famous draw for the West Indies.
From India’s perspective, there would definitely be a few worries which the team management would want to sort at the earliest. The fitness of elegant opener M. Vijay is still under scrutiny after he injured his thumb on the opening day of the series. It will be interesting to see the likely team combination once Vijay is fully fit. In case Vijay remains ineligible for selection for the third test, Cheteshwar Pujara may just get an extended run.
After his exploits in the second test, it will be impossible to overlook KL Rahul, whose recent form is completely mesmerizing. Shikhar Dhawan’s timely 84 in the first test at Antigua could probably work for the southpaw and he is expected to retain his position in the playing XI. This means that if Vijay is fully fit, and the Indians continue with their 6-5 team combination, Pujara will have to make way for the opener. In that case, KL Rahul will bat at 3, with Vijay back to his designated opening slot along with Shikhar Dhawan.
The middle order looks solid as ever with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane already among the runs. The form displayed by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha in the two games with the bat should put the team management at ease since he is no mug with the bat.
Another source of worry for the Indians would be the form of leg-spinner Amit Mishra. Mishra has looked completely off color on this tour so far and the most distressing aspect about him has been his body language. If he doesn’t find enough purchase from the strip, Mishra looks way too flabbergasted and out of sorts.
Ignoring someone like Ravindra Jadeja for too long wouldn’t be advisable either, as his returns in test matches have been phenomenal. On these slow and low wickets, Jadeja will enjoy bowling as his accurate stump to stump line will also tie the batsmen down. With Jadeja in the side, the Indians can at least be assured of stemming the run flow as the left arm spinner is quite accurate.
Considering skipper Virat Kohli’s love for pace, Umesh Yadav will retain his place in the XI. Yadav with the old ball can wreck menace as his pace is quite sharp and among the three pacers, only he is the one who finds a decent reverse swing. Ignoring Yadav and playing three spinners on a usual St. Lucia wicket which is quite flat would be a poor move. All said, Jadeja should be a straight forward swap for Amit Mishra.
India’s predicted XI for the third Test:
- S. Dhawan 2. KL. Rahul 3. M. Vijay 4. V. Kohli (c) 5. A. Rahane 6. R. Ashwin 7. W. Saha 8. R. Jadeja 9. M. Shami 10. I. Sharma 11. U. Yadav