India begin the tour of the West Indies with a warmup match against the WICB President's XI, starting Saturday. With a new coach in Anil Kumble on board, Virat Kohli and co. will be keen to start their West Indies tour in a positive manner.
The two-day tour match takes place at the Warner Park in St. Kitts, and with another practice match to come next week, India will be keen to make as much use of the two games as possible to get acclimatised to the West Indian conditions.
India come into this tour as the heavy favourites, despite the fact that this is a Test series away from home. Four Tests give both teams time to claw their way back from a possible hole, but looking at the strength of the two teams, India should be able to come up trumps in the end.
Before that, however, Kumble and Kohli will need to settle on the playing XI, and the two practice matches will help in that regard.
The West Indies Cricket Board have named a fairly strong squad for the practice matches against the Indians, with Leon Johnson captaining a President XI team that includes the likes of Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Rajendra Chandrika and Jomel Warrican, who have all played Test cricket for the West Indies.
"These matches are important for us, because, you see, places are up for grabs in the Test team," Johnson told reporters. "Performing against these international teams is always good. Last year, a couple of guys performed against Australia and they made it into the Test team."
India, who underwent a preparatory camp in Bengaluru before flying out to the Caribbean earlier this week, and the President's XI team, though, would have liked the first warmup match to be more than just two days, because two days means, most likely, a day each for the teams to bat. While that is not such a bad start for a tour, ideally, India would have liked the possibility of a full result, just to get back into that Test match groove, having played so much limited-overs cricket over the last six months.
Johnson believes the primary objective for his team is to put the much-vaunted India batting lineup under pressure. "If we are able to bowl well, I think we would have achieved something," Johnson added. "We have a decent bowling lineup and India, obviously have a high-quality batting lineup, so if we manage to bowl well, I think we would have achieved something on this surface here at St. Kitts."
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Umesh Yadav.
WICB President's XI: Leon Johnson (C), Jermaine Blackwood, Rajendra Chandrika, Roston Chase, Jason Dawes, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Damion Jacobs, Keon Joseph, Marquino Mindley, Vishaul Singh, Jomel Warrican.
Where to follow the match live
India vs WICB President's XI is scheduled for a 7.30 p.m. IST (10 a.m. local time, 3 p.m. BST) start. There will be no live coverage of the match on any of the TV channels in India. However, the live updates of the match will be available on BCCI's official Twitter handle.