August 18-22, 2016
Start time 1000 local (1400 GMT)
The adage “good things come to those who wait” has a connotation that impatience can jeopardise the chances of the arrival of good things, but it is highly unlikely impatience will hurt India’s chances of becoming No. 1 in Test cricket. Given their dominance at home over the last few years, India are almost certain to become the top-ranked Test team at some point during the 13-Test home season, but Virat Kohli’s men don’t want to wait that long. They have a great opportunity here, they have West Indies on the mat, they have finished two Tests inside four days, and if they win the last Test they will retain their momentary No. 1 Test ranking that came their way when Australia lost 3-0 to Sri Lanka. If they do manage to win at Queen’s Park Oval, it will be only the second time that they will have won three Tests in an away series.
It hasn’t just been about India’s content. West Indies have been accommodating hosts apart for brief spells when they have shown the discipline to push India. There was a time when they had made India bowlers wait 528 balls for a wicket, but lost their last 17 wickets in 63.5 overs to lose the third Test despite a day’s relief handed to them by rain. There was a time when they had reduced India to 126 for 5 in 49.3 overs but not only did they concede 227 in the rest of that innings, they went at 4.5 an over in the second when they needed to delay India’s declaration. India have been tested but not for long enough.
Coming to the only ground where they have won more than they have lost in the last 10 years, West Indies will hope they can put up creditable resistance.
West Indies LDLDL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Virat Kohli has made it clear he will be batting at No. 3 to accommodate Rohit Sharma at No. 5. Except that the last Test, when he moved up to No.3, exposing himself to a newish ball, he registered his lowest Test aggregate. Kohli, though, wants to lead by example; if he feels playing Rohit is the right thing to, he will be the first one to make a sacrifice if required. A middling attack is not a bad place to test himself at No. 3 either.
First there was Darren Sammy, now there is Jason Holder: pliant Test captains whose spirit cannot be doubted but whose numbers don’t justify a settled place in Test XIs. Anybody who has followed this series knows Holder has toiled his socks off but he still remains a No. 8 who averages 48.09 with the ball. He has only one wicket to show for 86.2 overs of tireless bowling with a proud seam in this series.
Leon Johnson, who replaced the failing opener Rajendra Chandrika in the third Test, hasn’t set the world alight but has shown promise. West Indies are likely to give him another Test. Queen’s Park Oval has traditionally been a spinner-friendly surface so if West Indies bring back Devendra Bishoo, it will have to be at the expense of one of the three specialist quicks, none of whom had a horrible Test in St Lucia.
West Indies (probable): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Leon Johnson, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9, 10 and 11 (out of) Alzarri Joseph, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel and Devendra Bishoo
Virat Kohli made it quite clear he was not going to give Rohit Sharma just the one Test. With the addition of Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s swing to the side, the attack is well rounded. The only man whose place might be in question now is Shikhar Dhawan, if India look to draft M Vijay back in.
India (probable): 1 KL Rahul, 2 M Vijay/Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 R Ashwin, 7 Wriddhiman Saha, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ishant Sharma
Pitch and conditions
A dry pitch awaits the teams at the Queen’s Park Oval, with Kohli expecting turn and bounce for the spinners. Kohli, however, said he had spotted a couple of damp patches on Tuesday, and would wait to see how the pitch looked on the first morning before deciding on the composition of India’s XI. There has been intermittent rain in Port-of-Spain in the lead-up to the match, and weather interruptions are likely.
Stats and trivia
- R Ashwin needs eight wickets in the fourth Test to join Clarrie Grimmett as the fastest to 200 Test wickets
- No West Indies batsman has averaged more than 40 in this series, only two bowlers are under that mark
- Five of India’s batsmen have averaged over 40; none of their bowlers are over that mark
- Among grounds in West Indies that have hosted 10 or more Tests, Queen’s Park Oval has afforded spinners the best average – 36.66. The Bourda Oval in Guyana is the only other venue in West Indies where spinners average under 40, a marginal 39.94
“It’s a nice incentive, but it doesn’t really change anything for the team. Our goal has been to play good cricket, and we’ve done that in the past one year or so. We want to continue with the same.”
Virat Kohli on the No. 1 Test ranking that will be theirs if they win the final Test
“Personally I’d have liked to have done a little bit better. With the bat, I’ve got a few starts. Wickets have not been coming my way, but [I have been] doing part of my job in terms of holding up the ends and working real hard and giving the other bowlers time to rest. That part I’ve been doing well in this series, but I just haven’t got the wickets to show.”
Jason Holder assesses his own performance in the series so far