Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane along with a well-rested Jasprit Bumrah will be aiming for some quality game time when India take on West Indies Cricket Board XI in a three-day warm-up game starting on Saturday ahead of two-match series.With skipper Virat Kohli sustaining a right thumb injury during the third ODI, the team management would like to exercise precaution and may be rest their best player before World Test championship opener.Kohli has been in phenomenal form and has led India from the front in the limited-overs series. After scoring 106 runs in the three T20s, Kohli garnered 234 runs, including two centuries, in the two ODIs while the first one-dayer was called off due to rains after playing 13 overs.After whitewashing West Indies 3-0 in the T20 International series, India continued their winning spree and pocketed the three-match ODI rubber 2-0. A win in the Test series starting August 22 will be the first time that India would have won across all formats on Caribbean soil.For one of India’s batting mainstays in the longest format, Pujara will be playing a competitive red ball game after a good six months having last appeared in the Ranji Trophy final for Saurashtra a good six months back.Rahane, skipper Virat Kohli’s deputy in this format, didn’t exactly set the English County on fire scoring only 307 runs in seven games with a hundred and a fifty and sub-par average of 23.61.Rahane has had a prolonged bad patch in Tests also and this tour will be crucial for the Mumbaikar and a good hit in the warm-up is the kind of start he would be looking at.advertisementBumrah, who had a strenuous six months till World Cup has now freshened up and the practice game would be more about hitting the straps and getting some rhythm back after a month-long rest.The practice game will give a chance for the players who are already here in the West Indies to shift from limited-overs to five-day format and from white-ball to red-ball cricket.On the batting front, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant would desperately look for runs after a below-par limited-overs leg. Rishabh for one would be more keen on a hit as his understudy Wriddhiman Saha has already hit two half-centuries in the A games and is no doubt considered a far better keeper.Mayank Agarwal is certain to open in the Tests but it will be a toss-up between Hanuma Vihari (originally a middle-order batsman) and KL Rahul, who has not been in best of forms in this format.Pacers Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma too would look to impress the team management with a fine show in the practice game ahead of the two Tests.India’s spin department is expected to be led by the duo of off-spinner Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.Since it will not be an official first-class game, all the batsmen in the Indian squad are likely to spend some time in the middle to have a feel of the red ball. All the bowlers likewise will also roll their arms to get used to the longer format.The World Test Championship is a league which is being contested by nine of the 12 full members countries of the ICC. It is a two-year cycle, the first of which started on August 1 with the opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston.The group phase officially began on July 16 and will run until March 31, 2021, after which the top two teams will contest a final.And being the number one side in Test cricket at present, India would definitely start as one of the favourites to win the Championships.India Test squadIndia: Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Rishabh Pant, Cheteshwar Pujara, K L Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav.Also See:
What will Barcelona look like without Lionel Messi? Ernesto Valverde is getting an early glimpse into that scary reality this season as the club’s superstar faces a concerning battle for fitness.For the first time since 2009, Messi began the season watching on from the sidelines with the 32-year-old ruled out of the Blaugrana’s first four games with a foot injury. Never before has he been absent for so long at the outset of a season. In the absence of their key attacker, Barca started their campaign with a shock 1-0 loss to Athletic Club and dropped further points in La Liga a fortnight later in a 2-2 draw with Osasuna. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career As the Catalans looked to make amends for their disastrous Champions League exit last season, Valverde brought Messi back as a substitute in their group opener against Borussia Dortmund, which ultimately ended goalless. Another cameo against Granada in the league would follow before Messi was handed his first start of the season against Villarreal. After setting up Antoine Griezmann for the opening goal after just six minutes, Messi required treatment off the pitch for a thigh complaint in the 28th minute and, after struggling through the remainder of the first half, was replaced at the interval by Ousmane Dembele. Following the match, Valverde tried to talk down his star’s injury woes but his attempt at hyperbole was closer to reality than he would have liked. “When something happens to Messi, it seems that the world comes to a halt,” Valverde said post-match.”But it looks like it’s only some minor pain in his adductor. We replaced him as a precaution. We don’t want to take any risks.” While the world might not quite stop, the Catalans have certainly struggled for consistency in Messi’s absence and laboured to a 2-0 win over Getafe on Saturday without him. Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Inter, which is followed by a match against sixth-placed Sevilla four days later, Barcelona face the prospect of two more key games without their star man. Though Messi has been named in Valverde’s latest squad, the Barca coach concedes the game may come too soon. “First we have training. What I reiterate is that we will not run any risk and we have to wait for training,” Valverde told reporters on Tuesday.”Leo did half the training on Monday, we’ll see if he can finish [Tuesday’s session]. I don’t know if we can count on them in the end.”While question marks remain over Messi’s return date, one thing that is certain is the fact his body will require some careful management from now on. No longer in his twenties, nor boasting the immaculate physique of Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona must look after Messi in the wake of these recent injuries.The last time the Argentine missed over a month of football was back in 2015 and now, four years older, these latest fitness concerns cannot be taken lightly. “He’s 32 years old and has been playing at the highest level for a while without any rest, so it’s normal to see him starting to feel some pain at times,” Catalan legend Rivaldo wrote in his column for Betfair . “The club needs to let him fully recover so that he doesn’t suffer a recurrence of his injuries right after returning to the team. It doesn’t matter if he misses two, three weeks or a month. When I was in my early thirties, I thought I would never get injured, or feel pain, but it wasn’t the truth and those kinds of problems started to come.”Being 32 is not the same as being 25, so you need to manage your fitness better.”I don’t see this as a sign of decline in Messi, though, as he will come back and have a few more years at the highest level.” While Barcelona’s captain will be desperate to turn the page on his current injury crisis and lead his side back to La Liga’s summit, Messi’s current run of injuries isn’t something the club can afford to be gambling on anytime soon.