It’s seems like ages but the Indian fans finally have a reason to smile as the Indian cricket team returns to Test match arena after a long gap of six months. India will commence their four-Test series on Friday as they take on West Indies in first Test at Antigua.Having brushed the lowly Zimbabweans aside in their limited-overs tour of in June, it is time for the Indian cricket team to set their sights on the longer format of the game, with their last Test outing being the 3-0 thrashing of South Africa on home soil.After witnessing MS Dhoni at the helm of affairs all this time in the limited overs internationals, it will be interesting to see Virat Kohli the leader back in action in the Indian jersey, his aggressive leadership being one of the most anticipated aspects of the upcoming series.Given the fact that the West Indian Test side, especially their bowling unit, are lacking in star power, the full-strength Indian side is expected to make short work of the hosts despite not enjoying home advantage.The West Indians may be rocking the shortest format of the game, but are only slightly better than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the five-day format. Their inspirational triumph in the recently-concluded ICC World T20 might serve as a source of motivation for the Jason Holder-led side. However, Test cricket is a different ball-game altogether.The Indian selectors have picked a formidable squad for the upcoming tour which looks pretty balanced.The star-studded batting unit, packed with the likes of Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara, to name a few, is expected to hardly break sweat against an inexperienced and weak West Indian bowling unit.Carlos Brathwaite, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder and Miguel Cummins in the pace department makes it one of the weakest West Indies attacks which only adds further pressure on the likes of Holder and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo to get the job done, something that will reassure the Indian batsmen even further.Skipper Kohli has been in terrific form throughout this year, whether it be ODIs or T20Is, and it remains to be seen if he can carry his form over to Tests on the slow Caribbean tracks.Rahane was in good touch recently during the Indian Premier League (IPL), although his batting during that tournament — much to the chagrin of the Rising Pune Supergiants fans — was described as Test-like. He may want to continue batting the same way, now that he is playing the right format.Given the number of regulars in the squad, it will be quite a headache deciding the top-order combinations for India for the Antigua Test. It will be a tough task picking the opening combination between Dhawan, Rahul and Murali Vijay, with Rahul coming on the back of a brilliant tour of Zimbabwe.While Pujara, Kohli and Rahane are expected to fill in the next three slots, with Wriddhiman Saha being marked out as the first-choice wicketkeeper for this series, Rohit’s place in the side has a big question-mark hovering over its head. His selection will depend of what kind of combination India will adopt.Which brings us to the less talked-about aspect of Indian cricket. Mohammed Shami will return to the national side for the first time since last year’s World Cup. While he will be expected to lead the pace attack, it is the spinners who are likely to dominate throughout the series.India’s spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja excelled on the slow surface of St Kitts in the two practice games ahead of the Test series, and will probably feature alongside each other for the most part in the series.Their preparation for the series, under the watchful eyes of head coach and spin legend Anil Kumble, has been in full-swing so far. Mishra, who has admitted to banking on past experience in the Caribbean for success, has attributed Kumble as a source of constant support whose vast wealth of knowledge will be crucial for them.Which leaves us with the question of the other pacer in the playing XI, which will have to be a pick between Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. Young Shardul Thakur, whose has been impressive in the domestic circuit for Mumbai, might have to wait for a while before he finally gets to wear his maiden Test cap.Newly-appointed coach Kumble is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that his side don’t get overconfident ahead of the series with his unique preparations. Given the intensity that he is likely to infuse into the squad, there seems no stopping him from recording a thumping win in his first assignment as India coach.
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