It’s a historic occasion. The second Test between West Indies and India, in Port-of-Spain, will be the 100th Test between the two teams. Of the 99 played so far ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;opposition=4;orderby=won;spanmax1=19+Jul+2023;spanval1=span;team=6;template=results;type=team), West Indies have won 30 and India 23, while 46 have been draws.
In the last 21 years, however, West Indies have not managed a single win against India. Their previous victory came in 2002 ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/india-tour-of-west-indies-2002-62311/west-indies-vs-india-5th-test-63988/full-scorecard), when Yashasvi Jaiswal ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/yashasvi-jaiswal-1151278), the Player of the Match in the first Test ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/india-in-west-indies-2023-1381201/west-indies-vs-india-1st-test-1381212/full-scorecard) of the current series, was not even five months old.
Since then, the two sides have met 24 times ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;opposition=6;orderby=start;orderbyad=reverse;spanmax2=19+jul+2023;spanmin2=1+jun+2002;spanval2=span;team=4;template=results;type=team), with India winning on 15 occasions and drawing on the other nine. Given how the first Test went – India winning by an innings and 141 runs – West Indies will have to put in a serious effort to end that streak.
Having said that, this could be one of their better chances to do so. The pitch at the Queen’s Park Oval has been, traditionally, conducive to fast bowling, and West Indies have a far more experienced seam-bowling attack in this series.
Neither West Indies nor India play another Test for the next five months at least. So both teams will be looking to make the most of this opportunity, apart from pocketing some World Test Championship points. West Indies will be looking to achieve some stability with the bat, and India will hope that Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan spend a considerable time in the middle.
West Indies LLLWD (last five Tests, most recent first)
In the spotlight
The world first took notice of Alick Athanaze ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/alick-athanaze-1078692) when he topped the runs chart ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/records/tournament/batting-most-runs-career/icc-under-19-world-cup-2017-18-11980) at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup. Last month, against UAE, he smashed the joint-fastest fifty ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/west-indies-in-united-arab-emirates-2023-1376996/united-arab-emirates-vs-west-indies-3rd-odi-1377007/full-scorecard) by a batter on ODI debut. Then on his Test debut last week, against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and a turning track, he showed he had the temperament for the long format as well. With wickets tumbling at the other end, he top-scored for West Indies in each innings with knocks of 47 and 28. West Indies will want him to build on that start.
At the same U-19 World Cup where Athanaze was the leading run-scorer, Shubman Gill ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/shubman-gill-1070173) was second on the list, and was named the Player of the Tournament. While it took Athanaze five years to make his international debut, Gill is already seen as the heir apparent to Virat Kohli. In the first Test, by asking to be moved down to No. 3, he took another step in that direction – experts believe the middle order is his natural home. But a failure in India’s only innings in Dominica meant he now averages 31.96 after 17 Tests. The good thing is he has all the time in the world and the backing of the team management.
With Raymon Reifer out of the squad ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/west-indies-vs-india-kevin-sinclair-replaces-raymon-reifer-for-second-test-in-trinidad-1388039), left-hand batter Kirk McKenzie ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/kirk-mckenzie-1209196) could be in line for a debut. West Indies may also be tempted to bring in Shannon Gabriel for either Jomel Warrican or Rahkeem Cornwall. Meanwhile, uncapped offspin-bowling allrounder Kevin Sinclair ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/kevin-sinclair-1206110) will be on standby as a like-for-like replacement for Cornwall in case the latter is yet to fully recover from his chest infection.
West Indies (probable): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), 2 Tagenarine Chanderpaul, 3 Alick Athanaze, 4 Jermaine Blackwood, 5 Kirk McKenzie, 6 Jason Holder, 7 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 8 Rahkeem Cornwall/Kevin Sinclair, 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Shannon Gabriel/Jomel Warrican
Two days out from the Test, India captain Rohit Sharma said he was not looking to make “any drastic changes”. He also backed Ishan Kishan, saying he was “very impressed” with the wicketkeeper’s glovework. So it will not be a surprise if India field an unchanged XI.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Shubman Gill, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Ishan Kishan (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Pitch and conditions
While the Queen’s Park Oval has not hosted a Test since 2018, fast bowlers have always enjoyed the conditions here ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?bowling_pacespin=1;class=1;filter=advanced;ground=208;groupby=overall;orderby=wickets;template=results;type=bowling), registering a much better average (27.39) and strike rate (61.0) as compared to spinners ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?bowling_pacespin=2;class=1;filter=advanced;ground=208;groupby=overall;orderby=wickets;template=results;type=bowling) (36.57 and 88.7). Rain is forecast on all five days of the Test, though.