The India cricket team touched down in the Caribbean on Wednesday as it prepares for a four-Test series against the West Indies. And while the Test matches don’t get underway until July 21, India will start the first of two warmup contests on Saturday on the island of Saint Kitts.
Although the match against a West Indies Cricket Board President’s XI may not be that important in the grand scheme of things, it will be the first under the charge of new coach Anil Kumble. The former India captain and the country’s record wicket-taker in Tests was appointed last month following the end of Ravi Shastri’s reign as team director after the World Twenty 20 in April.
And Kumble has already laid out his targets, including creating a distinctive culture for his team.
“It is important we create an Indian way,” he told the Hindustan Times. “Take all the best practices in Indian culture, mesh them in a way that all of us own what we want to be seen as, known as, how do we want to play the game, how do we want to practice, how do we want to be seen as an Indian team.
“I don’t mean to say sledging is not Indian culture or is somebody else’s culture. What I meant was you would want to bring a feeling of Indian-ness – that is extended family, respect for one another. And the best practices in the Indian family would be, generally, follow whatever elders say, but here we want to be a bit more open and express our views even if they differ from that of the seniors.”
Kumble has also made it clear that he wants India to become the No. 1 team in the world in all three formats of the game. To get there, though, the team will likely have to improve its record outside of the Indian subcontinent. Indeed India has lost its last six Test series outside of those familiar conditions, dating back to a win on the team’s last visit to the West Indies five years ago. Kumble has outlined how he believes a reversal in fortunes can be achieved.
“Through a change in mindset and that has to happen not when you board a flight to play outside,” he explained. “It needs to happen at home. It is a team sport and the emphasis is on winning irrespective of conditions.”
Just four players remain from the group that secured a 1-0 victory over the West Indies in 2011. One of those is captain Virat Kohli. The 27-year-old, who took over from Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the Test skipper at the start of 2015, has lost just one of his eight matches at the helm, including series wins over Sri Lanka and South Africa last year. And Kohli claims to have already been impressed with Kumble’s leadership following a five-day training camp in Bangalore.
"I can tell you the positives and the things that we already feel are benefiting us,” he said, according to The Times of India. “I have always felt that if you have yourself been in that situation and if you have executed that, you can explain it better [to the team].”
India in West Indies Tour Schedule
July 9-10: vs. West Indies Cricket Board President’s XI (Saint Kitts)
July 14-16: vs. West Indies Cricket Board President’s XI (Saint Kitts)
July 21-25: 1st Test (Antigua)
July 30-Aug. 3: 2nd Test (Jamaica)
Aug. 9-Aug. 13: 3rd Test (St. Lucia)
Aug. 18-Aug. 22: 4th Test (Trinidad)