West Indies v India, 1st ODI, Trinidad June 5, 2011

Sammy hopes for improvement against spin

Trouble looms large for West Indies against spin. It was with spin that Pakistan pinned them in May and it's with spin again that India will strive to get them. West Indies' captain Darren Sammy, however, was hopeful his batsmen would put up a better show against India in the ODI series, even though they struggled in the one-off Twenty20.

Sammy based that belief on the experience gained by the West Indian batsmen against Pakistan's spinners. He reckoned Harbhajan Singh would be easier to deal with because he doesn't have the guile of Saeed Ajmal. "We should play Harbhajan better than we did against Pakistan. Ajmal was different. He was very difficult to pick because of his doosra. Harbhajan, in contract, is more orthodox and our batters should do well against him."

Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez grabbed 12 of the 26 wickets that fell to bowlers in the five-ODI series and India have two offspinners as well, in Harbhajan and R Ashwin. Sammy took positives from the Twenty20 defeat against India, saying though his batsmen couldn't score freely they showed they could keep their wickets.

Sammy said that rotating the strike will be the key, a discipline he stressed on even against Pakistan. In Saturday's Twenty20, there were 58 dot balls. "You can't get bogged down. They [batsmen] have been working hard with Desmond Haynes," he said. "Each individual will have his game plan and the focus should be to rotate the strike. You will have to sweep, use your feet, play with soft hands, all those things come into play."

Sammy was still irked by the fact that the pitches continue to be slow and spin-friendly in the Caribbean. "The tracks have slowed down in the last decade or so. We have seen the Indians struggle against bounce and pace in the past but we haven't had wickets to suit us for some time now. There is little we can do about it. We have to play on the tracks that groundsmen produce"

Sammy hoped the presence of Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan could improve the prospects of his team. "Everyone knows what Pollard can do. Bravo and Sars will add experience. Then there are the youngsters like Darren Bravo and Bishoo. Darren has the flair of Lara but he wants to make his own name, which is very good. He can be the next great West Indian batsman. He is working hard."

It's the batting that Sammy is worried about. He is confident that his bowling attack can defend 250 against India on these tracks. That may be debatable but the real battle will be between West Indian batsmen v Indian spin.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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