West Indies v India
Thursday July 21, 14:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
No West Indies series - in any format - would be complete without a senior player being unceremoniously axed from the squad. This time it is the experienced wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
Of course the big names have long since fallen by the wayside to ply their trade in T20 franchise cricket. There's no Chris Gayle or Dwayne Bravo while other stars like Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Sam Badree etcetera are not involved.
Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo do have international class, however, while you'll recognise the name Carlos Braithwaite. He's played only two Tests but his first-class record for an all-rounder is excellent.
Their best batter is Kraigg Braithwaite. Jason Holder will lead an inexperienced bowling attack after Jerome Taylor quit. Shane Dowrich takes the gloves.
India are in fine fettle ahead of the first Test. They have played well in two draws in the warm-ups and they will be hugely grateful for the chance to acclimatise and get used to the pitches.
The tourists are pondering their best XI. They could play five specialist bowlers or four an all-rounder (Stuart Binny or Ravi Jadeja) to add batting depth. Both could play at the expense of Amit Mishra with Ravi Ashwin unmoveable.
They must also decide whether Shikhar Dhawan or KL Rahul partners Murali Vijay in the opening slot. Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Chet Pujara are a solid combination below. Rohit Sharma may miss out.
With the ball Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami look to be certain starters. Bhuv Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakar are vying for one or even two spots.
In the last 34 Test series against the established powers (Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka) West Indies have won just twice. They're a shadow of the former greats. Unsurprisingly India are 1.21/5 for victory with West Indies 7.06/1 and the draw 5.59/2. A 3-0 India win on the correct score at 4.03/1 might appeal.
There have been only three completed Tests at North Sound. The first-innings scores read: 479-351-399. Two have ended in draws and the pitch looks pretty bland. Runscoring should be easy. Of the other six first-class matches at the venue since 2014, four have produced results.
West Indies are 7.87/1, India are 1.804/5 and the draw is 3.55/2 . It is the latter which would appear to be the most threat to the tourists coming good.
But that will require West Indies batting time. Are they capable? Since July 2012 they have posted 350 or more against top-ranked opposition just four times.
So it is hard not to reckon the tourists are value. This should be a mismatch in terms of ability and experience. We are well aware of India's poor record away from home but this is not a fair fight.
Top West Indies runscorer
Braithwaite is Mr Reliable. In the last two years he has 1,054 runs at 39. His nearest challenger is Bravo with 792 at 36.
Top India runscorer
This is a battle between Kohli and Rahane. The former has the better numbers away from home in the last two years but those are skewed somewhat by an extraordinary run glut against the Aussies. Rahane is actually more consistent.
Back India at 1.804/5