India front up against Barbados history
Tuesday, June 28, Bridgetown
Start time 1000 (1400 GMT, 1930 IST)
History isn't on India's side going into the second Test at the Kensington Oval. India have never won two Tests in a series in the Caribbean, and they have been thrashed in seven of the eight matches they have played at this ground - including the infamous failure to chase 120 in 1997. In addition, they are missing at least four of their first-choice players. Still, they enter the match as clear favourites after the 63-run win in the first Test.
West Indies had their moments in Jamaica, particularly on the first day when they had India pinned at 85 for 6, but couldn't capitalise. In an attempt to improve a record of just one series win in seven years, West Indies have hired the services of sports psychologist Rudi Webster. That might address their temperament problems, but they also have other troubles to deal with.
Chris Gayle's stand-off with the WICB continues, leaving him watching from the stands once again, Dwayne Bravo is again not in the squad and another senior member, Brendan Nash, has been dropped. Of the other two experienced players, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has had his problems with the board after the World Cup and Ramnaresh Sarwan has managed only 57 runs in six Test innings over the home summer. West Indies have had lesser to worry about on the bowling front with Ravi Rampaul striking early, Darren Sammy pulling his weight and Devendra Bishoo making a promising start to his Test career.
They will be up against an Indian batting line-up filled with youngsters who don't get too many chances in Test cricket. After the failure in Sabina Park, the openers and Virat Kohli get another opportunity to showcase their suitability for the longest format.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies: LLWDD
The spotlightBrendan Nash has been dispensed with, Shivnarine Chanderpaul is nearly 37 and unlikely to be around for more than a couple of years, which leaves Marlon Samuels an important role to play in the future. Samuels has been around for more than a decade but has only managed 30 Test appearances in that time. Widely regarded as one of the most talented batsmen in the region, he needs to live up to the expectations to ease a painful transitional period for West Indies.
A series of consistent performances has propelled Virat Kohli to a permanent spot in the Indian limited-overs sides. This series presents him his first chance to perform a similar job on the Test team. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman automatically take three middle-order slots in a full-strength team, leaving a host of contenders for the remaining place. Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and S Badrinath are all competing with Kohli for that place. Kohli fluffed his lines in Jamaica, and a repeat here could open the gates for Badrinath to come in for the final Test.
Team newsMS Dhoni has hinted that India could go in with three quick bowlers, which means Amit Mishra is likely to be sidelined despite a reasonable show in the first Test. Abhimanyu Mithun is likely to take Mishra's spot after Munaf Patel was ruled out due to his ongoing elbow injury. Munaf still struggles to bowl long spells due to inflammation in his elbow, and he failed to recover in time after lengthy net sessions in the lead-up to the match. That should allow Mithun, who arrived in the Caribbean five days after the rest of the squad due to visa issues, to play his fourth Test. Though Badrinath and Parthiv Patel are waiting in the wings, India will probably stick with the same batting line-up from Jamaica.
India: (probable) 1 Abhinav Mukund, 2 M Vijay, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 VVS Laxman, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Abhimanyu Mithun.
West Indies' problem in the first Test was their batting, something they have tried to address by dropping their misfiring vice-captain Nash. That opens up a place for Samuels in the middle order. Another decision for West Indies is the make-up of their fast bowling, needing to pick two out of Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards.
West Indies (probable) 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Lendl Simmons, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Marlon Samuels, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Fidel Edwards / Kemar Roach, 11 Devendra Bishoo.
Pitch and conditionsThe Barbados track is likely to have plenty of bounce, testing the technique of the batsmen. The Kensington Oval has generally been a result-oriented venue over the past decade, though the weather could play spoilsport over the next week, with showers predicted every day.
Stats and trivia
- Harbhajan Singh is only four wickets away from becoming the third Indian bowler to reach 400 wickets
- This will be Chanderpaul's 132nd Test, equalling Courtney Walsh's West Indian record for most Test matches
- Dravid's next innings at No.3 will be his 200th at that position. Ricky Ponting is second on the list with 193.
- For a comprehensive stats preview, please click here.
"He leads the spinning department and is doing really well. And you can expect a lot of character from him not only in the bowling department but also in the lower-order department with his contributions. He is a very good character to have. An aggressive character."
MS Dhoni on what Harbhajan Singh brings to the side
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo