first_imgBeset with injury worries but bolstered by the return of talismanic skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni from a break, world number one India take on the West Indies in the first Test of a three-match series, starting in Kingston, Jamaica, on Monday.Opener Murali Vijay, who was non-starter till Monday morning, has been declared fit. But Munaf Patel is still in doubt for the Test and if he missed out, it would be a huge blow for a side which is already without senior batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.Vijay was hit painfully on his right forefinger in his very first net session in the Caribbean and went for an X-ray on Saturday.Munaf has been inactive for the better part of the week, having injured his right elbow during the preceding one-day series which India won 3-2.”Vijay is our first choice as an opener but if he is unfit, then Parthiv Patel will open the innings,” Dhoni said, while hoping Munaf will turn up fit on the morning of the Test.With replacement pacer Abhimanyu Mithun yet to arrive in the Caribbean due to visa issues, the visitors are seriously undermined in the bowling department.It now seems certain that Praveen Kumar will make his Test debut and give company to Ishant Sharma. Ishant has lately been a regular in India’s Test eleven but he is far from being the spearhead.India would have spinners Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra as the other frontline bowlers, which is ironical given the crying need for pacers on a hard and bouncy Sabina Park pitch.advertisementWest Indies players Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul, Devendra Bishoo and Ramnaresh Sarwan during practice in Kingston on Saturday. APWest Indies, on the other hand, could end up fielding fielding four fast bowlers to make the most of the prevailing conditions and carry the momentum of winning the last two ODIs.West Indies could play Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul along with skipper Darren Sammy as its pace-bowling battery. Legspinner Devendra Bishoo will be the lone slow bowler.The hosts thus have a tailormade opportunity to catch the visitors napping as their fast bowlers can work their way past the untested openers and the batsmen can take advantage of a below- par Indian pace attack.The world’s top side is missing three of its regular batsmen but still has enough class to post a healthy total on the board.In Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the tourists have two batsmen who have 270 Tests and 47 centuries, besides nearly 20,000 Test runs between them.There would be some individual motivations for the Indians as Harbhajan Singh is just seven shy of the 400-wicket mark while Ishant Sharma (31 Tests) needs 10 more for his 100th wicket in Tests. Laxman (120 Tests) needs 97 runs to complete 8,000 runs.West Indies, despite missing on Chris Gayle, looks a reasonable side on paper. Opener Lendl Simmons was among the runs in the one-day series and left-hander Darren Bravo, along with the experienced Ramnaresh Sarwan, made a telling score in the final game. Veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul will add muscle to the middle order as would the underperforming Marlon Samuels. However, the hosts’ strength remains their bowling.- With inputs from PTI SquadsIndia: MS Dhoni (capt), Abhinav Mukund, Murali Vijay, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Praveen Kumar and Ishant SharmaWest Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Brendan Nash (vice-captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels and Ramnaresh SarwanMatch time: Live from Jamaica on TEN Cricket from 8:30 pmlast_img