Short stuff may not work this time - Holding
West Indies may have beaten India in the ICC World Twenty20 by using the short-pitched strategy against the batsmen but former fast bowler Michael Holding believes the absence of Fidel Edwards will make it difficult for the hosts to successfully deploy the plan again during the upcoming four-ODI series. Edwards' lower back injury, sustained during the tournament in England, kept him out of the 13-man squad for the first two one-dayers in Jamaica.
"Everyone realises that Fidel is the quickest," Holding told Cricinfo. "He can intimidate and will be crucial to use bouncers as a strategy. Without him, though, it will be tough to bowl that kind of short-pitched intimidatory bowling. Jerome Taylor has not been all that fit in recent times. Since the first Test against England in Jamaica, he has not been 100%."
India succeeded against the weaker attacks of Ireland and Bangladesh during the group stages of the tournament in England, but were startlingly inept against the volley of short balls bowled by the West Indies and England fast bowlers during the Super Eights matches at Lord's. India's susceptibility to the short delivery was no secret but it was the extent of their inability to counter that line of attack which was surprising. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, the two rising stars going by their performances in the subcontinent and in the IPL, struggled to play the rising ball. Gautam Gambhir, too, was cramped for room while Ravindra Jadeja simply looked out of his depth.
Holding also said he didn't expect Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy to be dropped for the first two matches against India. "There aren't too many bowlers in the Caribbean to say that they should be in the team," Holding said. "But I have been surprised by the exclusion of Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy. They are two young promising cricketers who I thought could be given more opportunities.
Simmons hit a classy 77 off 50 balls against South Africa and a composed 44 against India while Sammy, drafted in for the injured Fidel Edwards, turned in economical spells in the two matches that he played. But both have been, surprisingly, dropped from the series against India.
"Lendl didn't have a bad tour of England. He is a young cricketer and should be encouraged and nurtured. I can't see any reason why he has been left out especially when I see there are players in the team who didn't play a game in England and have been in the squad for quite some time. ODIs are not something you can predict easily. West Indies have been doing well in the shorter format and I hope they do well against India."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo