India will look to plug the holes and provide the finishing touches to their preparation for the four-Test series when they take on West Indies Cricket Board Presidents’ XI in the final warm-up match starting here Thursday.
The three-day match will more or less decide the final playing XI for India and both the batsmen and bowlers will look to make their performance count and earn a place when Kumble and Kohli sit down to select the team for the first Test at Antigua starting July 21.
India were far from impressive in their last two-day warm-up game as their pace battery struggled with their inconsistent show and it will be the last chance for Kumble’s boys to make an impression.
The Indian seamers, including Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, who is returning to competitive cricket after a long injury lay-off, began well but lost the plot after sometime as they struggled with their line and length.
They could not push the batsmen to play their deliveries and bowled too wide outside the off stump, something which the pacers will have to sort out in the three-day warm-up game at Warner Park.
Ishant Sharma, who also has had a long lay-off, and Umesh Yadav will also look to grind it out as the duo is expected to be key members of Kohli’s gameplans. It will be interesting to see if Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur gets a chance to roll his arms over in this game.
While the seamers were inconsistent, leg-spinner Amit Mishra was impressive and made life difficult for the West Indies Presidents’ XI batsmen and was on a hattrict after he dismissed Rajendra Chandrika and Jermaine Blackwood in successive balls. Mishra ended with a four-wicket haul and will look to continue his good run.
Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will also like to test their skills in the warm-up game, specially since the pitches in West Indies also assist slow bowlers. In batting, India’s top-order looked solid as they spent enough time in the middle with openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan scoring fifties.
Dhawan, whose form in the longer version has been pretty patchy, and Rahul will look for another good show before the team management finalise the opening slot with Murali Vijay being the other contender.
Cheteshwar Pujara scored scored 34 runs in 102 balls before retiring out, while Rohit Sharma too was impressive as he came up with a fluent 54 not out in 109 balls. However, skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were dismissed cheaply and the duo will look to find their ‘A’ game as they are an important cog in the India line-up.