First Test preview: India v West Indies

India

With a gaping void left in their schedule following the culmination of the protracted limited over series against Australia, the BCCI arranged a two-game Test series with the West Indies at the eleventh hour, the first of which starts on Wednesday in Kolkata.

With a gaping void left in their schedule following the culmination of the protracted limited over series against Australia, the BCCI arranged a two-game Test series with the West Indies at the eleventh hour, the first of which starts on Wednesday in Kolkata.

There has seldom been so much attention placed on one individual in the build-up to a Test match than the retiring Sachin Tendulkar has received in the past few days as his glittering career winds down.

While India's most adored sporting icon will be the cynosure at Eden Gardens, the first Test and indeed series is a lot more than an extended celebration of his career, there is a bigger picture, a series to be won and ultimately ten potentially five fascinating days of cricket to be played.

The centre stage will inevitably belong to Tendulkar – who will play his 199th Test match – but the frenzied farewell to a cricketing icon cannot overshadow the significance of the two-game series.

The result of which may seem insignificant to those who idolise the little master and interpret the games as nothing more than a Sachin send-off with little other context. However, two victories for the hosts would see them leapfrog England into second place in the latest ICC Test rankings – albeit temporarily ahead of the Ashes – and act as the perfect dress rehearsal for away challenges in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia next year.

It would be easy to forget that there are twenty-one other players taking to the field and another team gunning for glory of their own. The West Indies arrive in the sub-continent full of confidence and safe in the knowledge that they possess the resources necessary to spoil the party and win a series on Indian soil for the first time in thirty years.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side are firm favourites but won't be taking their opposition lightly. The reintegration of the talismanic Chris Gayle, experienced wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin and Kemar Roach among others – all of whom missed the two-nil series defeat exactly three years ago – only underlines the competitive nature of the tourists. West Indies haven't arrived in the sub-continent or indeed any tour with such a complete and powerful unit.

In fact, the circumstances and situation arguably plays into their hands – all the focus and attention is elsewhere, while little is expected of a side looking to rebuild and re-establish the glory days of years gone by against the supposedly all-domineering Indian outfit.

There one and only warm-up game ended in a draw with the highly talented and dangerous top-order offering a glimpse of their confidence and stability. The evergreen Shivenarin Chanderpaul, who blossoms in sub-continent conditions, acts as the cog in a well-oiled unit in which Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo and Kieran Powell provide class and destruction in equal measure.

India will be without all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for the series through injury with their squad showing several changes to the one that comprehensively beat Australia last time they played the longer format. Rohit Sharma and Shami Ahmed are notable inclusions with the latter expected to make his Test debut. The top-order is settled with little uncertainty surrounding the make-up but a decision is still to be made over Jadeja's replacement.

Ajinkya Rahane, who failed to impress against the Aussies in Delhi, is battling with Rohit for the role, while Pragyan Ojha may partner Ravichandran Ashwin as the second spinner.

The West Indies have several selection issues themselves with doubts surrounding the fitness of fast-bowler Kemar Roach and spinner Shane Shillingford, both of whom missed the recent warm-up match but coach Ottis Gibson is hopeful the pair will recover in time.

<b>Key Men</b><br>Amid the hysteria surrounding his penultimate Test, all eyes will be on Sachin's every move. Although his recent form with the bat leaves a lot to be desired, the 40-year-old has the ability to awe his beloved fans one last time against an industrious bowling attack.

Like their counterparts, the Windies have a milestone to celebrate in their camp too. The evergreen Chanderpaul will play his 150th Test in Mumbai next week and the left-hander has already shown he has the appetite for more runs with a hundred in the warm-up game.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2011: Third Test: Match drawn in Mumbai<br>2011: Second Test: India won by an innings and 15 runs in Kolkata<br>2011: First Test: India won by five wickets in Delhi<br>2011: Third Test: Match drawn in Roseau<br>2011: Second Test: Match drawn in Bridgetown

<b>Probable Teams</b><br><i>India:</i> Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Shami Ahmed.

<i>West Indies:</i> Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Kemar Roach, Tino Best, Shane Shillingford.

<b>Dates:</b> 6 to 10 November<br><b>Morning session:</b> 09:00-11:00 (03:30-05.30 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 11:40-13:40 (06:10-08:10 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 14:00-16:00 (08:30-10:30 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Nigel Long (England) and Richard Kettleborough (England)<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Vineet Kulkarni (India)<br><b>Match referee:</b> Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe)

<b>Ryan Bailey</b>

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