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October 11 2018

How is a home Test series against West Indies helping India?

- by Sahil Rathod

The first Test of the ongoing West Indies tour of India ended with India registering a mammoth victory by an innings and 272 runs in under 3 days. This is India’s biggest ever win in 86 years of Test cricket and it comes as no surprise considering how depleted and inexperienced the current West Indies side is.

Which brings us to the question: if India are in preparation mode for the upcoming tour of Australia, how is a home series against a West Indies side that is mediocre at best going to help?

The Asia Cup triumph aside, India arrived in Rajkot for the first Test against the Windies after a dismal tour of England where they were beaten 4-1 in the Test series. To be honest, the series was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests but in the end, isn’t that what counts?

India were understandably unprepared for the series and away conditions don’t always suit the Men In Blue and while the bowlers did their job, it was the batsmen who let India down despite Virat Kohli being the standout batsman for both sides. But isn’t that always the case? And after all that, how does a home series against the Windies help in any way? Other than bolster confidence? And add to the record books?

Okay so Prithvi Shaw finally made his much-awaited debut. He got the coveted century on debut. Kohli returned to the fold with another century. Ravindra Jadeja struck his maiden Test ton. India wrapped up the proceedings in under three days. But so what?

There were talks of giving Rohit Sharma a chance to finally make his claim in the Test side. Mayank Agarwal has been waiting for his debut while Karun Nair was been sidelined for far too long. Pacer Mohammed Siraj deserves a run in as well. If India had rested their stars and given the upcoming players a chance, it would’ve made a lot of sense. And maybe Agarwal and Siraj will still get their chance in the second Test at Hyderabad. But isn’t that result a foregone conclusion too?

Another baffling point is India’s insistence of playing on turning tracks. 16 of the 20 West Indian wickets in Rajkot were picked up by Indian spinners and if that is the preparation for Australia, the team is going to be severely unprepared on the bounce friendly tracks Down Under.

New Zealand have not played an international series since April which begs the question why India didn’t plan a tour there. The conditions would’ve been similar to Australia and the Kiwi side has enough pace to give the Indian batsmen a reality check. But instead, the No. 1 Test side in the world chose to welcome a depleted West Indian side that is stuck in transition and thrash them at home.

This has always been the lament about Indian Test cricket: tigers at home, minnows abroad and as far as our preparations for the Australia series is concerned that pattern unfortunately looks set to continue.

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