LUCKNOW, India – Captain Jason Holder says West Indies are bracing for the anticipated trial by spin against Afghanistan but has backed his batting group to negate the threat when the one-off inaugural Test bowls off Wednesday.
West Indies batsmen had their hands full in the preceding white-ball series as the likes of wily leg-spinning captain Rashid Khan and off-spinners Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman put their immense qualities on show.
“Afghanistan will be no pushovers especially in these conditions which they are familiar with. I expect they will play plenty spinners,” Holder said.
“It will be up to our batsmen to negotiate their spinners and do it well… they have some really good spinners, but I believe we have the quality to do that. Our bowling unit has done well over the last three to four years – arguably one of the best bowling attacks in the world. Hopefully our bowling attack can continue.”
West Indies were forced to share the white-ball series, making a clean sweep of the three-match One-Day International series before losing the Twenty20 rubber 2-1.
The upcoming Test will the sixth and final one for West Indies this year and Holder said his side was highly motivated to come away with a victory.
They beat England 2-1 in a three-Test series at the start of the year before going down 2-0 to India recently.
“We are really up for this, we really want to win this match and we really want to end the series with a win and end the year on a high, where Test cricket is concerned,” Holder pointed out.
“I don’t think we play another Test match until we tour England next year. Having started the year with a series win, it would be fitting to end the year with a series win.”
Conditions will play a key role in the contest at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Stadium, the venue for every match in the series so far.
The surface there has provided plenty encouragement for slower bowlers and West Indies spinners Jomel Warrican and Rahkeem Cornwall finished with nine wickets between them in the three-day tour match which ended in a draw earlier this week.
However, Holder said he believed his seam attack still possessed the ability to get assistance from the flat track.
“In the Caribbean you get more bounce than we have seen in the surfaces here, even though we have noticed the pace of the pitches back home has slowed down a bit,” he noted.
“For me the skill level of our bowlers is what has really done it for us. We have Kemar Roach, who has been tremendous and who is approaching 200 Test wickets, and we’ve also seen great improvement and commitment from Shannon Gabriel, who even though he’s not here, has been good for us.”
He continued: “They have earned success mainly due to their tremendous skills, rather than due to pace. In this day and age, you have to be skillful with the ball. We also have spinners who are eager to get going in these conditions because, as we all have noticed, the conditions will favour the slow bowlers.
“Overall, it will be a good challenge and I’m looking forward to the start of it.”
The match bowls off 9:30 a.m. (midnight Tuesday, Eastern Caribbean time).