Spin key part of West Indies attack - Gibson
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson believes that with the pitches in the Caribbean facilitating spin, the West Indian spinners are better equipped to tackle conditions in India.
"We've evolved from that pace-pronged attack from the 80s and 90s," Gibson said. "Our home conditions favour spinners. These pitches are why Sunil Narine, Shane Shillingford, Veerasammy Permaul and Nikita Miller do so well regionally. They are tailored for spin. Now, you think of our spinners when you think of West Indies."
Gibson reiterated that with Sheldon Cotterrell, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, they still boasted a healthy stock of fast bowlers. He also indicated that Tino Best was a pacer that India should be wary of given his recent adaptability to varying pitch situations. The coach expressed confidence in his attack and its diversity when questioned about the absences of Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine.
"Ravi's just coming off injury so the selectors wanted to give him time to recover. Sunil has done well but Shillingford has been excellent in Tests. Narine has played a lot of cricket and we don't want to burden players too early with too much responsibility. I know he will bounce back into the Test team and copy his limited-overs form very soon." Gibson professed that the versatility of his bowling arsenal would be critical come the Test series.
He was cautious about the state of Indian pitches but added that his players have been mentally training for these conditions since the impromptu announcement of the tour while gearing for the subsequent New Zealand trip. "This India series wasn't ideally timed as we were busy prepping for New Zealand," he said. "We've been playing a lot of cricket all over the world in all formats but Test matches is what we're missing. We have a good team and a nice blend of youngsters and experience now and we must prepare as best we can on these turf pitches in India. We have a good idea about the pitches but must be very mindful still."
Darren Sammy believes that West Indies will be tougher to beat this time around due to the experience they have gained over the last couple of years.
"Last Test series here, it was tough," Sammy said. "We had a lot of youngsters and we were inexperienced. Now, we have six consecutive Test wins (against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) under our belts and our limited-overs players are some of the best in the ODI and T20 formats. We are a much improved team from the last visit to India."
He pointed to 2013 Wisden Cricketer of the Year, Marlon Samuels, himself and Chris Gayle as players whose knowledge of the Indian cricketing landscape would be essential, given their IPL experience. "Our bowlers are up to the mark and ready for the challenge. [Sheldon] Cotterrell is a great find, and with players such as Kemar Roach and spinners like Shane [Shillingford] and Veerasammy Permaul more mature now, I think we're ready. Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell also gave good accounts [of themselves] with the A team recently, so I think we will adapt well to the pitches and conditions."
Sammy also highlighted that Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test would be monumental for his stalwart batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. "He's our talisman in the middle and there's a reason why some refer to Shiv as 'The Wall'. His batting will be crucial for us in this series. We are counting on him a lot."
The captain added that despite the occasion, he hoped to dismiss Tendulkar cheaply. "We aren't giving Sachin a freebie or a hundred but we will be giving him a guard of honour when he walks out to the pitch because he has earned that respect," Sammy said. "He has been a great ambassador for the game and it's only fitting. His career is distinguished and it's testament to him as a professional and his character as a person.
"But that's just one player. We cannot focus on Sachin alone. We have MS Dhoni, (Shikhar) Dhawan and Virat Kohli who are big run-getters. We'll have to focus on the entire team but we have goals set that we're looking to achieve and it will be an exciting competition."
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here