After a near-faultless first Test performance, India’s cricket team will look to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead against the West Indies in the second Test in Jamaica, starting Saturday. India recorded its biggest ever win away from home soil last week in Antigua, brushing a dispirited West Indies team aside by an innings and 92 runs.
For the tourists, there were a number of standout performances in the first of a four-match series. Virat Kohli scored his maiden Test double century, continuing his exceptional form, while Ravichandran Ashwin excelled with both bat and ball. After firing a century the spinner took seven wickets to send the West Indies crashing toward defeat in the second innings and earn himself a place at the top of the International Cricket Council’s Test bowler rankings.
Looking to show that this was now a team capable of excelling in any conditions, and not just in the Indian subcontinent, it was an ideal way to start. And top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has made it clear that the team, currently ranked second in the Test rankings, is aiming high.
“The first aim is to win the series and obviously we would like to win all the Test matches,” he said. “But we will take one Test at a time and we will be focusing on winning this Test. We have a positive environment and all the guys are charged up for this Test.
“We have a simple goal. The target currently starting from the second Test is to win the match, but the goal is to win the series. Going ahead we want to be the No. 1 Test team in the world.”
Whether it wanted to or not, India will have to change a winning lineup. Opener Murali Vijay suffered a thumb injury in the first Test and is set to be replaced by Kannur Lokesh Rahul. On a pitch likely to bring more challenges for the batsman, India could opt to add an extra batter after going with five bowlers in the first Test, although Kohli has suggested he won’t alter his formula.
The West Indies, though, are likely to make changes after a performance to forget. Particularly with a green pitch at Kingston’s Sabina Park, the host is expected to boost its bowling arsenal, with exciting 19-year-old fast bowler Alzarri Joseph added to the squad. Miguel Cummins could also be added to the mix.
More than anything, though, experienced batsman Marlon Samuels believes an improvement in attitude is required to start arresting the West Indies’ struggles in Test cricket.
"I am not going to be here and tell you that it is a young team,” he said in Kingston. “For me to say that is like finding excuses. It's a Test team and Test cricket is big man cricket, and players should know that by now that they are here. We all have to step up to the plate and put up a better challenge to the Indians, who are very good.
"Yes, we have new players coming in, but at the end of the day, they still have to deliver as, at the end of the day, one has to do good to keep their job.”
Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, Lokesh Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma
Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajendra Chandrika, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Leon Johnson, Marlon Samuels, Miguel Cummins, Alzarri Joseph
Second Test InfoSchedule: Saturday, July 30 – Wednesday, Aug. 3 (Play begins at 11 a.m. EDT each day)TV Channel: Willow TVLive Streaming: Willow.tv