Windies look to end 17-year winless streak against India

Popular off-spinning all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall goes through his paces in the final training session ahead of the first Test. (Photo courtesy CWI Media)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – West Indies will attempt to break a 17-year winless streak against India in the longest format and also stave off another series clean sweep, when they clash with the tourists in the opening Test here today.

Their last success in a Test came when Carl Hooper’s side posted a 10-wicket victory at Georgetown on India’s tour of the Caribbean in 2002. Coincidentally, that five-match rubber was the last time the Windies beat India in a series.

Since then, West Indies have endured a wretched run against the Asian powerhouse, losing 12 of their last 21 Tests home and away. Last year on the subcontinent, neither Test lasted three days.

Despite the miserable record, captain Jason Holder said yesterday his side were upbeat ahead of the two-Test series, especially following on from their success against England earlier this year in the Caribbean.

“I think the mindset of the team is a positive one. The guys are upbeat for the challenge,” Holder told reporters here ahead of the contest at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

“We’ve been playing some pretty good Test cricket over the last couple years and we’ve been able to put together some series wins which will prove pivotal for our confidence and our development.

“The start of the Test championship brings something special, the guys really know what’s at stake. It’s just a matter for us to continue doing the small things we’ve been doing and keep building a unit.”

West Indies’ success against England came almost out of nowhere. They had suffered chastening defeats to India and Bangladesh in their previous four Tests late last year, and had been given little hope against world number one England.

However, they crushed England by 381 runs in the Kensington Oval first Test, setting in train a stunning 2-1 series result that saw them reclaim the Wisden Trophy for the first time in a decade.

Holder said if they were to be successful against the Indians, the Windies batsmen needed to follow the example of the bowling group in terms of their discipline.

“The beauty about our success is that it’s coming from being patient and building pressure,” explained Holder.

“As a bowling unit we’ve been very, very disciplined and it gave us a lot of positive results. In terms of our batting, we’ve got a number of individual star performers (but) I still don’t think collectively we’ve done well enough as a batting unit.

“The onus is on the batters now to just continue to improve. We have seen a lot of improvement but we just want to get a little more consistency in that department.”

West Indies have retained the core of the group who were successful against England but selectors have brought in off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall as the spin option.

The 26-year-old has been rewarded for his consistency in the first class championship and for West Indies A, and Holder said he was expecting him to excel once selected.

“Rahkeem has done well for a number of years in regional cricket so I think he is deserving of this selection,” said Holder.

“Hopefully if he gets the opportunity he can come in and continue the good work he’s shown in A-team cricket and regional cricket. I think a guy like Rahkeem has definitely shown his cricketing ability, both with bat and ball and also in the field – I think he’s got a big safe pair of hands.

“If it does boil down that he gets this opportunity I think he’ll grab it with both hands and be just as successful as he was in regional cricket.”