Should India finally give a game to Ravindra Jadeja? That will be one of the several big questions for Virat Kohli to answer going into the third Test match against the West Indies in St. Lucia on Tuesday.
India are in a strong position with a 1-0 series lead after two matches, but it could, and probably should, have been a lot stronger, with only some outstanding West Indies batting, coupled with some poor decision making by the Indians keeping this series interesting.
That is a great thing for the neutrals and the home fans, of course, but if India want to be the undisputed No.1 Test team in the world, they need to show a lot more ruthlessness. Getting the team setup right is the first step towards that.
There are a few of decisions for Kohli and Anil Kumble, the captain and coach, to think through, with the first of them being the openers. KL Rahul took his chance at the top of the order with both hands after Murali Vijay was ruled out, scoring a century, while it is quite clear that the India skipper is a big fan of Shikhar Dhawan, with the fact that he is a left-hander also helping matters.
So, it could come down to Vijay, who has recovered from the thumb injury that kept him out of the second Test match, and Rahul, unless, Kohli decides to drop Cheteshwar Pujara to the bench, with Rahul, then, most likely, batting at No.3.
There are a couple of bowling decisions to make for Kohli as well, with Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav wondering if they will keep their place in the team. Umesh was quite disappointing in the second Test match, bowling just 18 overs in the entire contest, while failing to pick up a wicket.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur are the options for Kohli to consider – there is also Stuart Binny, who can play as an all-rounder -- and with the wicket expected to have plenty of pace and bounce, it looks like, if Umesh does sit it out, another pacer will come in for him.
That means Jadeja, if he is to play in this third Test at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, will need to displace Mishra from the playing XI to get a game. While Mishra has not been disappointing, he hasn't been great either, and with Jadeja doing so well in the South Africa series, albeit in different conditions, there is a case for the left-arm orthodox to return to the team.
It all depends on who Kohli and Kumble think will fare better on the St. Lucia wicket, with the pitch expected to have carry, pace and bounce for the pace bowlers through the five days.
The West Indies will definitely make one change to their playing XI, with Leon Johnson set to open the batting with Kraigg Brathwaite, after Rajendra Chandrika was dropped from the squad. Shai Hope was called up as his replacement, but Johnson, who has been in the squad for the entire series so far, will feature, according to the captain Jason Holder.
Owing to the pitch conditions, Holder also said West Indies are likely to go with an extra pace bowler – so, it could either be a debut for Alzarri Joseph or a return to the playing XI for Carlos Brathwaite, in the place of, most likely, leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.
Expected playing XI: India: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, Leon Johnson, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Miguel Cummins, Alzarri Joseph.