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Sanjay Manjrekar

India could have rested Cheteshwar Pujara for the West Indies series

If they had looked at this home series as preparation for the Australian tour, they could have tried another new batsman instead

Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar
KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have been out of form and need the West Indies series to get back in the runs  •  AFP/Getty Images

KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have been out of form and need the West Indies series to get back in the runs  •  AFP/Getty Images

With warm-up matches being almost negligible these days and India's overseas woes continuing, it's best if India start treating home games like practice before an overseas tour.
In this case, with the impending Australian tour - another shot for India to improve their overseas record - the two home Tests against West Indies could be used as warm-up games, or, to be accurate, preparatory matches for that series.
This is not in any way trying to belittle West Indies as a team, or the importance of this series, but really, time has come for India to improve their poor overseas record. India have achieved most other things in the game, but this is one peak they have not been able to scale.
Indian cricket is now senior in age and in a very advantageous position with regards to its resources and the popularity of the sport. It's almost incumbent on India to rule the cricketing world, which means that like West Indies and Australia did at their prime, India need to beat teams like South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia in their backyards.
This has to be the only goal now as far as Test cricket is concerned, and the maturing Indian fans are, I am sure, ready to bear setbacks at home if, in return, they see India winning overseas.
From that standpoint, I wish India had done more with the selection of the team for the West Indies series, specifically with regards to their batting.
I would have liked to see another senior batsman, like Cheteshwar Pujara, rested to have a look at one more fresh option, along with Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal, to fill the batting holes that cost India the series in England.
Pujara will get a pile of runs against West Indies, like he always does at home, and will also tour Australia and get the hard runs there, being the industrious batsman he is. By playing him against West Indies, is Indian cricket gaining anything? The more new batsmen you try, the better your chances of finding two new batting options with the potential to do well overseas.
As far as Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul are concerned, they need to play every game, for both (despite Rahul's hundred at The Oval) are clearly out of form. A few quality innings against West Indies may at least raise their self-confidence before the Australia tour, if not address the technical issues that haunted them in England.
While I say this, it's also important to note that when you play at home, none of the issues that can plague you overseas are easily visible. A batsman hitting a good-length ball off Kemar Roach through the line will be applauded for a wonderful cover drive, but that same shot will cost him his wicket in Australia.
Rahul and Rahane are senior enough now to know fully well what works in India does not work overseas. For them, it's about making the adjustment once they get overseas, but with runs at home, they will be able to do it better. Otherwise they will be worried about keeping their place in the side, and if this is the case, you only end up seeing the worst side of a batsman.
To make the most of the West Indies series with an eye on Australia, the selectors have to be smart when they are watching the action. More than focusing on the runs the batsmen are getting, they need to focus on how they are getting those runs.
Watch the batsmen's techniques closely, especially their defensive technique. Can they instinctively leave balls outside the off stump? Are they defending with a still bat, or pushing away from their body only with their hands? Are they using the space behind the batting crease? Are they decisively forward and back while batting? I know as commentator I will be doing this, even if the selectors don't.
It's the batsmen's defensive technique that let India down badly in England and batting is, thankfully, the only real ailment to cure for Indian cricket to compete better overseas.
India have another great chance, for Australia, like England, are a weakened side (without David Warner and Steven Smith), giving India an opportunity to better their overseas image.
But here's the real good news for Indian batsmen and Indian fans. Unlike in South Africa and England, the ball is likely to come more in straight lines in Australia.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. @sanjaymanjrekar