Devendra Bishoo © Getty Images
Devendra Bishoo shot to fame earlier this year due to his ‘Ball of the Century’ that dismissed Brad Haddin during the home series against Australia © Getty Images

With the Test series against Sri Lanka knocking at their door, West Indies are undergoing a host of preparations with the intention of turning over to a new leaf in mind. Among the crucial factors for the Jason Holder-led team in the upcoming series will be the spin department, given the fact that Sri Lankan pitches are known for their turn. Amit Banerjee explains how Devendra Bishoo and Marlon Samuels have a major burden on their shoulders in the upcoming series.

Both West Indies and Sri Lanka are currently in practice mode for the upcoming Sobers-Tissera Trophy, the official name for the bilateral Test series which was recently proposed by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). The visitors are clearly not faring very well in ongoing practice match against the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI, especially with the bat (with only the Kraigg and Carlos Brathwaite putting up decent scores). While the result of the practice match may be irrelevant for the tourists for now, it will help them gain an idea of where they stand at the moment.

It is no revelation that the Sri Lankan pitches are a batting haven and are also very conducive for spin, which is typical of the tracks in the subcontinent. It is usually a practice for teams visiting the subcontinent to carry a couple of specialist spinners in their squad, with the West Indians pinning their hopes on the pair of Devendra Bishoo and part-time spinner Marlon Samuels, with the uncapped Jomel Warrican finding his way into the side. One can thus safely assume that the visitors are on the backfoot as far as spin is concerned, atleast for the Tests. To add to their woes, the batsmen are up against the likes of Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka’s finest spinner since the Muttiah Muralitharan era.

It is extremely unfortunate for the West Indians to realise that Sunil Narine — their key spinner and currently one of the best exponents of the art in the world — cannot be utilised outside the sphere of limited-overs cricket due to his poor average of 40. While his services will be cherished in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20I), he cannot be relied on for the two-Test series.

Bishoo enjoyed what probably could be described as the best moment of his career when he clean-bowled Brad Haddin during the first of the two-Test series against Australia earlier this year. In what some took to describing as the ‘Ball of the Century’, Bishoo managed to extract a massive turn after pitching it on the leg-stump, with the ball clipping the top of the off-stump. Judging by the amount of turn that bowlers get on Sri Lankan tracks, Bishoo may very well be awaiting similar dismissals in the upcoming series. VIDEO: Devendra Bishoo’s ‘Ball of the Century’ that dismissed Brad Haddin

That however, is not the only thing that Bishoo needs aim for at the moment, for he has the responsibility of leading the spin attack and also mentor young Warrican, who needs to transform his domestic exploits (which are described as brilliant by some). Who knows, Bishoo could seal himself as the Test spin specialist in the aftermath of this series.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)