Ravichandran Ashwin and Virat Kohli take a run
Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin in action during the first Test against West Indies © AFP

So far, so good! India has hardly put any foot wrong in the first three of the four-Test series against West Indies. Batsmen scoring runs and bowlers taking wickets, they have played well in harmony. And, with that, Virat Kohli could not have asked for anything more. With 14 Tests still to play this season, India have drawn only one Test, winning the remaining two. To put things into perspective, this tour has been an ideal preparation for the long home season against big guns like New Zealand, England and Australia. However, with one match still to play, they will take no half measures to end the series 3-0. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs West Indies, 4th Test match

India were firm favourites even before the start of the series. Boasting of players such as Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, to name just three, they were expected to take the cake.

The outcome of the first Test unfolded exactly the same way, as India edged out West Indies by an innings and 92 runs courtesy Kohli’s maiden double-hundred, becoming the first Indian captain to achieve the milestone on foreign soil. However, promoting Ashwin up the order, to No. 6, made everyone sit up and take notice.

With Anil Kumble as India’s head coach, the decision did not come as a surprise, as he himself was a decent batsman. He was mindful of Ashwin’s ability with bat. And with Kohli going all guns blazing with a five-bowler strategy, the decision paid off as Ashwin scored his third Test hundred, taking India to a mammoth first-innings total.

While the pacers rattled West Indies batting in the first innings, it was Ashwin in the second who bogged them down with his stunning seven-for, eventually winning the Man of the Match award.

The second Test saw the rampaging KL Rahul take centre stage. With Murali Vijay missing out due to injury, Rahul played the backup batsman’s role to perfection, grabbing the opportunity with both hands. He amassed 158 in 303 balls. To credit him, he has incredibly worked hard on his technique, and has turned into one of the finest Indian batsmen across formats. Also read: 5 West Indies cricketers to watch out for

Another Indian batsman who made his mark was Ajinkya Rahane, scoring his seventh hundred, his fifth outside India. And yet again, the visitors took a colossal lead. However, West Indies displayed nerves of steel and drew the match, thanks to Roston Chase’s magnificent 137. For the first time, India’s bowling unit appeared clueless, as the wicket had nothing to offer on the last day.

The third Test was expected to be a tough contest, with the hosts exhibiting unmatched resilience in the previous match. All the same, they were back to square one, losing the Test by 237 runs.

On the other hand, for India, it was Ashwin, yet again in the forefront of another comprehensive victory, becoming the first Indian to score 2 hundreds and take 2 five-fors in the same series. Another day, another Ashwin record: it was the same old story.

But the highlight of the Test was Wriddhiman Saha’s maiden Test hundred, stitching a 213-run stand with Ashwin for the sixth wicket. Though it took time to happen, a cricketer of his calibre deserves more.

As a matter of fact, Ashwin was adjudged Man of the Series against Sri Lanka as well as South Africa last season. Thus, with already winning two Man of the Match awards, it will not be a surprise if he makes a hat-trick of Man of the Series awards. Also read: 5 Indian cricketers to watch out for

Sri Lanka handed Australia a whitewash, helping India jump to the No. 1 spot. However, if Kohli’s men lose or even draw the contest, Pakistan will dethrone them to No. 2.

Not that there are not any loopholes, as the team needs to get the combinations right for the final Test.

Shikhar Dhawan has scored only 138 runs at 34.50 with a highest score of 84. If truth be told, with Vijay at India’s disposal, Dhawan is likely to be benched (or rather should be) given his hot-and-cold performances. Nonetheless, everything boils to what composition Kohli thinks is right on turning and bouncy Queen’s Park Oval track. Whatever be the case, Rohit Sharma will almost certainly make it to the playing XI.

While Kohli leads the batting chart, Ashwin has scalped 16 wickets at 23.25 to top the bowling department.

The prediction of the last Test requires very little thought. It is obvious that West Indies have to punch well above their weight to keep India at bay.

India, however, has never won consecutive Tests on Caribbean shore, and will leave no stone unturned to attain the feat.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)