The series in their pocket, the third Test for India is more about preparing for the Australia tour. Given the fierce rivalry for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, both teams are focussed on giving off their best in the upcoming contest Down Under.
With a month to go, it is time to give shape to the team combination. Keeping that in mind, the Indian selectors blooded Varun Aaron in the final Test against the West Indies.With the hosts made to field, all eyes were on the Jharkhand speedster at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. So far, Aaron hasn't done anything to suggest that his debut will be as stunning as Australia's Pat Cummins in Johannesburg. The young tearaway starred against South Africa in the thrilling match that finished on Monday.
With a seven-wicket match haul, Cummins has already started playing on the India batsmen's minds, but Aaron's performance of 16-3-47-0 would have gone largely unnoticed in Australian ranks.
He was steady and occasionally sharp but lacked the key weapon in Cummins's armoury - the ability to give shape to the ball.
To be fair, compared to Johannesburg, the Wankhede wicket didn't have the same purchase for pacers, but in these conditions, the art of taking wickets lies in the bowlers' ability to think through their wickets. The way he plotted his dismissals was the most impressive part of Cummins's performance - the highlight being outwitting old fox Jacques Kallis.
Need to lift game
Aaron didn't show acumen in the art of out-thinking the batsmen. He's on trial for the Australia tour, but will need to lift his game in the remaining part of the match to earn the right to a contest against Cummins.
Overall, the Indian selectors would not be pleased by the team's opening day show. It was an inept bowling and fielding performance. As a result, the local supporters will have to wait longer than expected to watch their favourite son, Sachin Tendulkar, go for his special hundred.
The West Indies batsmen batted throughout the day and look intent on making Tendulkar's team toil for the most of Wednesday.
Powered by a solid opening partnership and attacking unbeaten half-centuries by Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo, West Indies finished at 267 for two off 91 overs.
The home supporters' anguish grew because poor catching was a big factor in preventing India from getting their turn to bat early. The hosts would have been in a better position but for the three dropped catches. Both the not out batsmen benefitted once while opener Kraigg Brathwaite too enjoyed a reprieve. Bravo was dropped by Rahul Dravid on 33, Edwards by Dhoni on 29 and Brathwaite by VVS Laxman on 57.
Edwards, batting on 65 (10 fours), and Bravo, 57 (seven fours), built on the foundation laid by openers Brathwaite (68) and Adrian Barath (62). The two batted doggedly to thread together a 137-run partnership before Edwards and Bravo took charge in an entertaining 117-run (192 ball) unbeaten third-wicket partnership.