Trinidad: India will need significant contributions from their batters to compensate for a lack of firepower in their depleted pace attack in the first Test against West Indies, which begins in Roseau on Wednesday.
The two-Test series is being viewed as the starting point of a transition period for Rohit Sharma’s side, who lost to Australia in the World Test Championship final last month.
The visitors are without injured spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and have rested seamer Mohammed Shami, leaving Mohammed Siraj, who has played 19 Tests, as the leader of an inexperienced pace battery.
Established bowlers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have been overlooked in favour of Jaydev Unadkat and Navdeep Saini, who have played two tests each, and the uncapped Mukesh Sharma.
While they remain the world’s top-ranked Test team and begin as favourites against eighth-placed West Indies, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said there would be no complacency against a side who beat England in successive home series.
'Not taking Windies lightly'
“We, as a team, respect West Indies. They are not the ones to be taken lightly,” the batsman told reporters on Monday.
“West Indies has performed well at home during the last couple of years or so, especially in Tests. We are looking to give our 100 per cent and backing our gameplan and strengths.” Change is also coming to the batter order, where Yashasvi Jaiswal is set to make his Test debut in place of stubborn veteran Cheteshwar Pujara at No 3.
Jaiswal has already built a reputation as a hard-hitting batter in the Indian Premier League, an approach which stands in stark contrast to Pujara’s often dour displays.
“I am so happy for Jaiswal, he has worked so hard, scored runs for Mumbai in domestic cricket and in the IPL,” Rahane said.
“He is an exciting talent and the way he is batting is nice.” West Indies will see the series as a chance to lift the mood after they failed to qualify for this year’s 50-overs World Cup in India, a new low for the two-time champions.
“It’s important to start well,” home captain Kraigg Brathwaite said on Sunday.
“We generally know how the surfaces will play, and we already know India’s team, so it’s important from now to mentally prepare, and understand the plans we want both as a bowling unit and as batters.”