India go into the final Test of the series against the West Indies with an opportunity to lock up the No.1 Test ranking and throw the key away, but those ambitions could be hurt by the weather in Port of Spain. The fourth Test begins from Thursday, with wet weather conditions expected to hamper the course of this match; to what extent remains to be seen.
If the weather stays away, India should be able to finish this series off with a victory and a comprehensive 3-0 result. The team will be upbeat after a terrific performance in the third Test, with the three changes that Virat Kohli made to the playing XI, going into that match, paying dividends.
However, there are a couple of team decisions to make for Kohli for this fourth Test match at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad. The first one being the openers.
It is unfair on Murali Vijay to have to sit out another Test match, provided he is fit enough to play, considering he has been India's best opener – indeed their most consistent batsman – for a while now. While Kohli likes aggressive batsmen in his team, the only reason why Rohit Sharma is expected to be given a long rope, Vijay deserves his place in the playing XI, be that at the expense of KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan.
Dhawan has done very little of note in this series so far, and his place should be under threat, if Kohli decides to bring Vijay back into the fold.
Kohli was adamant Rohit, whose ability to take the match away in one session was given as the reason, will get more opportunities in Test match cricket, which means the captain will remain at No.3, with the latter coming in at No.5..
The wicket in Port of Spain is set to be on the drier side, with Kohli saying he is expecting the wicket to produce turn and bounce. That means Kohli might consider bringing Amit Mishra in for a fast bowler, even if it remains unlikely. Mohammed Shami has only just returned from a long-term injury, and with India set to play 13 Test matches at home, giving the fast bowler a rest might not be such a bad idea, be that by bringing in another fast bowler – Umesh Yadav or Shardul Thakur – or going in with three spinners – R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mishra – if the wicket really is set to suit the spinners more.
West Indies also have a bowling team selection to think about. Devendra Bishoo was left out of the third Test match, but could come back in owing to the nature of the pitch. That will mean leaving out one of Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cummins, which is not an easy thing to do, considering all of them have bowled well.
The rest of the West Indies team should remain the same, despite the batsmen collapsing like a house of cards in the third Test.
Update: West Indies will bat first after winning the toss.
Confirmed playing XI: India: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, Leon Johnson, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Jason Holder, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel.