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After an absorbing tour of England, the Indian team is back to their comforts in familiar conditions in their own backyard. While a couple of the players have been rested considering the heavy workload, a few miss out owing to injuries. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been rested who had a good tour to UAE for the Asia Cup given that they'll be a crucial cog in the wheel on the tour to Australia. Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma miss out due to the injuries they sustained in the Asia Cup and on the tour of England respectively. There are a few changes in the top of the order as well with their mainstay openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay being dropped from the side after their poor run in Tests outside Asia. The management is backing a new set of openers to be tested before the major tour to Australia.
After Prithvi Shaw's inclusion in the Indian squad for the last 2 Test matches against England, he has been picked again in the squad and will also be making his debut in the 1st Test. Apart from him, Mayank Aggarwal has been rewarded with his maiden Test call-up for his consistent run in the domestic circuit. Our speedster, Mohammed Siraj has also broken through in the Indian set up following his incredible performances in the domestic circuit and for India A. However, Siraj has not been included the 12-man squad for the 1st Test as the experienced campaigners, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami will spearhead the fast bowling department.
Indian batsmen have not been challenged in the past year in home conditions and even though they have a fairly new and inexperienced opening combination, India's batting shouldn't be a major concern. However, Rahane's form in the previous home outings will be a matter he'll like to look into. After being rested for the Asia Cup, Virat Kohli is back leading the side and he will like to continue his dream run with the bat and pile on the miseries for West India. Cheteshwar Pujara found his lost form towards the end of the England series and will play a crucial role at the top of the order. Rishabh Pant impressed everyone with his fearless brand of cricket in England and has been retained for this series over Dinesh Karthik.
The West Indies team have been regrouping and performing decently well in the red-ball format after their controversies with their Cricket Board. With batsmen like Shai Hope, Roston Chase, and Shane Dowrich, West Indies have a settled middle order. The bowling will be led by their captain, Jason Holder accompanied by Keemo Paul, Shannon Gabriel, and Devendra Bishoo. West Indies haven't beaten India since 2002 in Kingston and the last time West Indies won a Test match in India was way back in 1994 in Mohali. The stats favour India but all these won't matter when the two teams take the field for the 1st Test match.
The temperature in Rajkot will be in the late 30s and it is going to be excruciatingly hot for the players. The pitch at Rajkot is a batsmen's abode with spinners coming in to play from the 3rd day. However, there are reports that India have asked for fast and bouncy tracks to help them prepare for the upcoming tour to Australia. If that's the case, India might go in with 2 spinners and 3 pacers. The captain winning the toss should be opting to bat first as no one will want to be chasing in the 4th innings.
India XI (probable): KL Rahul, P Shaw, C Pujara, V Kohli (c), A Rahane, R Pant (wk), R Ashwin, R Jadeja, K Yadav/S Thakur, U Yadav, M Shami.
Catch all the action from the 1st of the two Tests at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot, Thursday, 4th October onwards, 9:30 AM IST.