'Will give Sachin and the team a run for their money' - Shillingford
West Indies offspinner Shane Shillingford, a non-playing member of the West Indies team that toured India two years ago, believes that he can make an impact and spoil Sachin Tendulkar's final Test in Mumbai next month.
"We are the underdogs but we have great players that do the basics well and we are going to give Sachin and the team a run for their money," Shillingford said.
Shillingford, who watched his team struggle against India from the sidelines in 2011, has endured several promising regional stints for Northern Windward Islands, and he now comes into the Test squad as one of West Indies' pivotal spinners. His performances have even kept out limited-overs star, Sunil Narine.
"It was difficult to come to India and not play some years ago but I watched carefully and learned from the sidelines," he said. "They have passionate crowds and it can be tough at times but since then, I've honed my craft and taken notes."
Shillingford is entrusted with the spin responsibility, along with Veerasammy Permaul, and indicated that he has been researching India's pitches.
"I took a lot of notes of how Indian bowlers vary their pace under these conditions and pitches. I monitored (Ravichandran) Ashwin a lot and I cannot wait to come and assess the conditions for myself. Then I'll adapt."
With Test series wins over Bangladesh and Zimbabwe recently, Shillingford believes West Indies' gradual progress up the ICC rankings signals more optimistic times. Against Zimbabwe, he was named Man of the Series, and he admitted that there was an extra element of pressure on him.
"This pressure is something Saqlain [Mushtaq] helped prepare us for with his spin clinic in Barbados recently," he said. "This course taught us about inspiration, tactics, physical and mental preparation and I'm looking forward to implementing these things in India."
To gear for his return to the subcontinent, Shillingford revealed that he had been boosting up his original skills as a spinner via the techniques that Saqlain taught him, and by learning from his team-mates such as Narine, Permaul Samuel Badree.
"I have to work at this spinning spot because I want to be a key member in the Test team. It's an honor and with consistency, we'll make it further up the rankings. India is a big occasion but I feel we can rise above this challenge."
Despite India boasting a formidable batting line-up, Shillingford maintained that West Indies had enough firepower in their bowling ranks to quell the explosive opposition, and that the coach, Ottis Gibson, had outlined a series of plans for the players to stick to.
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here