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Cricket in whites. Finally, some relief for purists who had to be content with the England-Sri Lanka action. Post Indian Premier League (IPL), India start their busy season with a limited-overs tour to Zimbabwe, followed by a four-match Test series against West Indies in July. The last time India toured West Indies for a Test series was back in 2011 after their World Cup glory at home and the visitors won it. Five long years since, India have not won a Test series outside the subcontinent and this is the chance for Virat Kohli’s men as they target the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. READ MORE: Indian squad for Zimbabwe: Selectors show faith in the young guns

 

Not many surprises were expected when the selectors gathered around the table to chalk down the names who they felt would do the job for India in West Indies, as the team had done exceptionally well when they thrashed the visiting South African 3-0 in end of 2015. READ MORE: When a schoolteacher told David Warner, “When you grow up, you will be good at nothing”

At the same time, rewarding domestic performances, the wise men gave pacer Shardul Thakur his maiden India call-up. The Mumbai pacer has performed exceptionally in First-Class cricket in the last few seasons.

Having named  Ajinkya Rahane the skipper for Zimbabwe tour in 2015, the selectors have now escalated him to vice-captaincy for the Test side. It is clear that the Mumbai stalwart is being looked as a leader for future. Following is the squad for the West Indies tour: READ MORE: Dwayne Bravo fined for his “friendly push” Kieron Pollard; both cricketers tweet about the incident

Virat Kohli (c): In 2011, Kohli’s journey in Test cricket began in the Caribbean Islands. It was not eventful and he will look forward to reverse the tides. Kohli did not score as many runs he would have liked to in the series against South Africa and the phenomenal form that he is in, he will not only like to add a bulk to his Test runs but also ensure the No. 1 ranking.

Murali Vijay: His monk-like demeanour at top has been one of the reasons for India’s recent success in Test cricket. The expectation will be that he continues doing what he has.

Shikhar Dhawan: He has not been very consistent but being an impact player, selectors have shown faith in him. It will be a crucial series for him and his future.

KL Rahul: Again, consistency has been an issue with Rahul in Tests. He is young and has all ingredients to succeed at the top level. Good to see that selectors have persisted with him.

Cheteshwar Pujara: Pujara is one of India’s mainstays in Test. He will look forward to add to his impressive Test numbers.

Ajinkya Rahane (vc): India’s crisis man, Rahane’s rise has been phenomenal and he has has shown that he can pile up runs anywhere in the planet. A West Indies tour is an important landmark in a cricketer’s CV and now escalated to vice-captaincy, Rahane will look forward to the Caribbean challenge.

Rohit Sharma: It is a surprise that despite a poor show against South Africa and a mediocre Test record that Rohit has been persisted with in the Test squad. While there is no doubt about his ability, Shreyas Iyer for his phenomenal First-Class season should have got this spot. Rohit needs to grab this opportunity or else time will run out for him in Test cricket.

Wriddhiman Saha (wk): Without a doubt, Saha is the best wicketkeeper in India and even selectors believe so or else he would have made way for someone else as he has not been scoring enough runs of late. Good to see that selectors have backed him and he will need to back their faith with good glove-work and runs too.

Ravichandran Ashwin: Test cricket’s No. 1 all-rounder stamped his authority in this format against West Indies when they toured India in 2011. Ashwin’s numbers are extraordinary but when it comes to Tests played outside subcontinent, it cuts a sorry picture. Here is Ashwin’s chance to prove himself.

Amit Mishra: An attacking leg-spinner, we do not know how many games Mishra will feature in but it is always a plus to have a bowler of his calibre and experience in the ranks. He has very good in recent times and to pick him in not so spin-friendly surfaces might prove to be a masterstroke.

Ravindra Jadeja: This will be a key series for Jadeja who has the reputation of being ‘unplayable’ at home. He will look forward to improve his overseas record and not only that his record as a batsman does not justify his ability.

Ishant Sharma: It was in West Indies, in 2011, when Ishant picked his 100th Test wicket. He is an improved bowler and will lead the pacers’ brigade there.

Mohammed Shami: One has to feel for him as when he seemed to peak, injuries forced him out and now he finds himself struggling to get back to his previous self. It is good to see that selectors have shown faith.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Bhuvneshwar began well in Test cricket but gradually his form dipped. He has been doing well in limited-overs cricket and selectors have given him a life jacket to revive his Test career.

Umesh Yadav: He has not done much of note for Team India or in the IPL this year but Umesh was brilliant in the final Test against South Africa in December 2015. The spell bowled by him was one of the best by an Indian pacer in recent times. It is fair that selectors persisted with him.

Stuart Binny: Fills the role of the seam bowling all-rounder and if conditions permit, he will play.

Shardul Thakur: He ended up as the highest wicket-taker in First-Class cricket of 2014-15, bagging 57 from 12 games at 22.66. In 2015-16 Ranji Trophy, Thakur claimed 41 wickets at 24.51.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)