NEW DELHI: The last time West Indies defeated a team other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe in a Test series was four years ago, a 2-0 over New Zealand at home. And the last time they defeated India in a Test was 12 years ago.
But as India head into their final three-day warm-up tie against the West Indies Board President’s XI starting in St. Kitts on Thursday, Ravichandran Ashwin feels it may not all be one-sided when the four-Test series kicks off in Antigua on July 21.
India’s leading spinner expects the pitches to play slow. And although going by the drawn two-day tie against WICB at St. Kitts, which he did not play in, heat could be a factor, he does not expect the pitches to break until later in the game.
An improving first innings record of West Indies batsmen is also something which the Indian camp has taken note of.
“I could observe from outside the challenges, the heat. The way adapt to these conditions quickly is going to be important,” he told bcci.tv in an interview ahead of the three-day game.
“I’m sure I have to be prepared for a long haul, and try and make it as boring as possible, in terms of plugging away all day long. Once the results come, it will come faster, we just have to wait for that one breakthrough.”
The last Test series Ashwin played in, he came away with 31 wickets, in the home series against South Africa late last year on wickets tailor-made for spin.
But the Test pitches in Antigua, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad are unlikely to crumble easily.
Besides, India need to tune up for the Tests.
India have only played limited-overs cricket so far in 2016. A short tour of Australia, a home series against Sri Lanka, the Asia Cup win in Bangladesh and the World T20 at home was followed by the IPL.
So, building up stamina for the five-day grind will be crucial.
“There is not going to be a lot in it for the spinners, there might be a little bounce, slowness. But it’s got to be pretty boring lines, keep teasing away with flight. We are pretty much ready for it.
“We have not played a Test for a long time, so in terms of trying to go for a longer period of time, build those longer spells and try and build those boring lines. These are the boxes you need to tick,” he said.
Ashwin, 29, will be playing in his first Test series in the Caribbean. Yet, he will lead the spin pack also including leg spinner Amit Mishra and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
“There are a lot of challenges and advantages that come with it,” he said. “The team is going to look up to you to deliver the breakthrough, vital wickets. The challenge that comes with it is pressure, but that is something that I have played for.”
Mishra took 4/67 wickets in the drawn first warm-up, but Ashwin pointed out: “You saw Mishy bowl for about 15-16 overs without any wicket. But once he got a breakthrough, he started breaking through at regular intervals. That is what we have to look for, especially in the first couple of days or three days of the Test match.”
It is new coach Anil Kumble’s first assignment, but Ashwin can already see an impact.
“He has brought in lot of energy, meticulousness among the group. There is a lot of planning. There is some very good discipline in the nets. The batsman gets out of the nets at a perfect time, for a start, and that has not been going around for quite some time.”