A Test series begins with both teams hoping for a fresh start. There will be interest as well in some of the new players who are about to take their first steps in red-ball cricket. These may be two low-key matches happening at a time when the biggest market in the cricket world will be fast asleep but there is a chance that the gains made over these next few weeks in the Caribbean could reverberate through the annals of time.
India are in transition. West Indies are in shock. Two great cricket nations trying to capture their best form have turned to the upstarts among their number to lead the way forward.
Yashasvi Jaiswal is 21. He is preparing to open the batting for India on Test debut. Alick Athanaze is 24. He is preparing to live up to the faith that no less than Brian Lara has in him. There are others vying to prove themselves as well. Ajinkya Rahane has the words vice-captain next to his name but he'll know only consistent runs will keep him in the side. Rahkeem Cornwall comes with all the potential in the world and though he has lived up to some of it with his offspin, a batting average of 18 from nine Test does not tally with just how good he can be.
Plenty of focus will be on the kind of pitches that will be used in these games. Windsor Park in Dominica is hosting a Test match for the first time in over six years. And given the discrepancy between the two pace attacks - West Indies can call on quicker, taller and more experienced fast bowlers through the course of this series - they have an excellent opportunity. Not to mention seamer-friendly pitches might also help negate India's biggest threats with the ball - R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
West Indies haven't beaten India in a Test series since April 2002. They'll be hungry to change that.
West Indies: LLWDL (last five completed matches, most recent first) India: LDLWW
In the spotlight
This feels like a pivotal year for Rohit Sharma. He already seems to have been phased out in T20 cricket. And the way India perform under his captaincy in the upcoming ODI World Cup may well determine how long he continues in that format. So Tests are, all of a sudden, looking like his most stable source of game time, especially after that bumper tour of England in 2021 where his defence was almost on par with his offence. India take pride in winning away from home and as an opening batter, Rohit has the chance to lay the foundations for that.
Tagenarine Chanderpaul began his Test career by staring down the might of the Australian bowling attack on their own turf. It didn't take a lot of time for him to put the lessons he learned on that tour to good use, scoring a double-century in his third match. The 27-year-old has his father's stance and more importantly his hunger as well. Now to see if he has Shivnarine's fondness (seven centuries at an average of 63.85) for Indian bowlers.
Shubman Gill was always destined to slip down into India's middle order in Test cricket, and this might be the tour where that happens. He'll own the No. 4 slot eventually but for now No. 3 will do. Jaiswal, who averages 80 from 15 first-class games, with a penchant for converting fifties (2) into hundreds (9), will partner Rohit at the top of the order. Picking the pace attack though is much more of a problem, with only Siraj guaranteed a spot.
West Indies will have a good mix of orthodox batters at the top and some agenda pushers in the middle order, and if they all click together, they can really make it hard for the opposition. Their bowling, of course, is their biggest strength and all of their frontliners appear fit and ready for battle.
West Indies (probable): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), 2 Tagenarine Chanderpaul, 3 Raymon Reifer, 4 Jermaine Blackwood, 5 Alick Athanaze, 6 Jason Holder, 7 Rahkeem Cornwall, 8 Joshua de Silva (wk), 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Shannon Gabriel
Pitch and conditions
It is a long time since West Indies has been a fast bowlers' paradise. Both venues for this series are more known for producing slow pitches that lead to attritional cricket. Weather wise, there is some rain forecast on the first, second and fifth days of the Test.
Stats and trivia
India's pace attack on the Test tour of the West Indies carries a total experience of 88 Test wickets between them; Mohammed Siraj, the leader of the pack, has 52.
West Indies have played five Tests at Windsor Park but have won only one of them.
"Looking at the wicket, I think we might go in with two spinners and three seamers. The last Test match played here was in 2017 and the spinners picked a lot of the wickets (18 of 38). Having trained here for days, we noticed there has been a lot of bounce. Think we will play a 3-2 combination." India captain Rohit Sharma