Virat Kohli studied the Sabina Park wicket in Jamaica with a bit of a smile, despite a healthy cover of grass on the pitch a day before the start of the second Test match between India and the West Indies. While the home team will look to that green wicket to try and get back in the series, Kohli will also fancy his team's chances, knowing pace and bounce is not such a bad thing for his bowlers.
India dominated the opening Test match in Antigua from day one, with the decision to go with five pure bowlers working to a T. While there is a call for bringing in an extra batsman to bat at No.6, just to shore up the lineup on a pitch that is likely to help the bowlers, Kohli is pretty clear on the fact that five bowlers is what will give India the best chance at taking a 2-0 lead on a ground where results in Test matches are quite common.
"Honestly there's not much room to change when you've won the first game, knowing that the fast bowlers have done the job," Kohli told reporters on Friday. "There's good bounce in this wicket.
"There is a second innings as well, we need to understand that. It's not overcast conditions and a green pitch where you will compromise on one spinner. You know that when the wicket dries up it will start turning and there is good bounce so the spinners will come into play.
"Like they did in the last game also, spinners can play a massive role. I think the roles will switch pretty drastically with each innings, that's what I feel, for all bowlers, and for that we have to have all bases covered for us to have enough options to take 10 wickets in the second innings also.
"We need to have a good balance of spinners and fast bowlers for us to get a result. And that's what we had in the first game. As I said, when you win there's not that much room for change unless the conditions are drastically different, which they are not. There's pace and bounce here, and I think this will help the spinners in the second innings as well."
That means Amit Mishra is likely to keep his place in the playing XI, with R Ashwin, again, batting at No.6. In that first Test victory, the fast bowlers took eight of the ten wickets in the first innings, before the offspinner Ashwin came to the fore in style in the second, finishing with a seven-for.
While the bowling lineup looks like staying the same for this second Test in Jamaica, where rain is forecast for all five days, there will be a change in the batting as far as the playing XI is concerned, with Murali Vijay ruled out due to a thumb injury, which kept him off the field for both batting innings of the West Indies. KL Rahul is the natural replacement for India's best opener.
Toothless bowling was the problem for the West Indies in the last match, with the decision to go with just two specialists not quite working out. While Carlos Brathwaite bowled decently and scored an unbeaten half-century in the second innings, the all-rounder is likely to make way for a pace bowler, be that Miguel Cummins or the 19-year-old Alzarri Joseph, who was called up for this second Test match.
If West Indies decide to go with both pace bowlers, then one of the batsmen could make way, but then that means the batting lineup will be weakened, and that is not a great scenario either for the home team. Brathwaite could still play in this second match, if West Indies decide to go with the all-rounder for a pure batsman, like Jermaine Blackwood.
Confirmed playing XI: India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Jason Holder, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel.