India dominated South Africa in their last Test series, showing just how potent a side they are in home conditions. Now, the challenge for Virat Kohli and his talented side will be to take that dominance outside the sub continent, with West Indies offering India the first chance to do just that.
While the West Indies might not be the force they were 20-30 years ago, India have still struggled to come away with comprehensive series victories from the Caribbean. Two 1-0 wins in the last two series in West Indies point to the fact that, that dominance factor, has not come into effect yet.
But, this might just be the opportunity for India to bring dominance into play – they have an aggressive captain in Virat Kohli, who always goes for the win, rather than settling for a draw, and they have a new coach in Anil Kumble, who already seems like the perfect fit.
Kohli, on Wednesday, spoke about sticking to his five-bowler theory, and with the pitches in the West Indies expected to offer little assistance to the bowlers, that could prove to be the right strategy. The wicket at the Sir Viv Richards stadium in Antigua looked dry and soft a day before the match, meaning there could be some assistance for the spinners.
The key to this Test match, and indeed the series, will be how well the West Indies batsmen play the India spinners, who will be led by R Ashwin. If the home team's willow-wielders can nullify the threat of Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra, India will struggle to pick up results.
Not giving away early wickets to the India fast bowlers, so that the spinners cannot go into all-out attack mode, will also be important, and the man to prevent West Indies from crumbling from ball one is Kraigg Brathwaite, the vice-captain and key opener of the home team.
"I think the main thing with these pitches in the Caribbean is patience and I think once we carry that both facing their pacers and spinners we will make some big targets," Brathwaite was quoted as saying by WICB's official website. "You know it's important for that first innings total.
"As the opener, I just want to build that foundation for the batsmen to come. That is my main focus. Once I can do that I can put the guys in the middle a little more comfortable so we can get big totals."
India will know there are two-three key batsmen in this West Indies squad; get them out and the rest might just crumble quicker than a cookie. While Brathwaite is the mainstay at the top of the innings, the main man with the bat could end up being Darren Bravo, with Marlon Samuels, who has an awful recent record in Test cricket, also likely to play a big part.
If Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and the rest of the India bowlers get on top of these batsmen, West Indies will be in trouble.
There are similar worries, however, in the India batting lineup as well. Murali Vijay has been in great form, but his opening partner, likely to be Shikhar Dhawan, is the epitome of inconsistency. Cheteshwar Pujara has still not hit the heights from a few years ago, while Virat Kohli is not the batting beast he is in limited-overs cricket when it comes to the longest format. Ajinkya Rahane needs to carry his home form to the overseas conditions more often, and with India set to play with a batsman less, there will be pressure on the wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to chip in with plenty of runs.
The West Indies bowling lineup is a little inexperienced, but that might work in their favour, because a lot of the India batsmen will not know what to expect.
Where to Watch Live
India vs West Indies first Test match, Day 1 is scheduled for a 7.30 p.m. IST (10 a.m. local time, 3 p.m. BST) start. Live TV coverage and live streaming information are below.
India: TV: Ten 2, Ten 3 and Ten 1 HD. Live Streaming: Ten Sports Live.
USA: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV online.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports 5. Live Streaming: Foxtel.
South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: TV: SuperSport 2. Live Streaming: SuperSport Live Video.