Sabina Park, Jamaica. The land of Holding, Patterson and Walsh. The land of fast bouncy tracks. The ground where India once declared its innings close because they had 5 batsmen who were retired hurt. A ground where India won test matches in 2006 and 2011. There is plenty of history for the Indians at the Sabina Park. 2016 is likely to be a much more straight forward affair. Irrespective of the pitch and the conditions, Indians will expect to win the second test and extend their lead in the series.
The first test went virtually as per script for the Indians. They would have retained the same team but for Murali Vijay being ruled out of this test with a thumb injury. KL Rahul will be drafted into the team. Rahul has done very well in the limited opportunities that he has been provided with. He has shown that he has the ability to deliver on the big stage and while Vijay has been an important member of the test team, the Indian team management will not be too concerned with his absence. The pitch appears to have a lot of grass but Kohli has indicated that India will stick to its trusted formula of three seamers and two spinners. All three seamers- Ishant, Shami and Yadav looked in fine form in Antigua and they will enjoy the conditions in Jamaica. There have been some murmurs on Cheteshwar Pujara’s form but there are no real concerns for the Indians with respect to their batting line up. Ravichandran Ashwin batted at number six at Antigua and it will be interesting to see how he bats in conditions more favorable to the bowlers.
The West Indies were so poor in Antigua that any sort of performance that they produce in Jamaica will be an improvement. Their bowling looked listless in Antigua and hence they have drafted under-19 sensation Alzarri Joseph in their team. The West Indies may also consider including Miguel Cummins to strengthen their bowling. The batting too looked listless and the West Indians will be looking at Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo to shoulder more responsibility.
If the test goes according to script then Jamaica will only confirm the dominance of the India over what is a steadily deteriorating West Indies test team. If the West Indies manage to spring a surprise another story will be added to the history of Sabina Park.