West Indies look to extend good run
Friday, June 26, 2009
Start time 09.30 (14.30 GMT)
The Big Picture
West Indies and India prepare for the first of four one-day internationals, in Jamaica, after extremely contrasting World Twenty20 campaigns in England. India entered the tournament as one of the favourites but underachieved tremendously, losing all their matches in the Super Eights stage. As a result of their second-round elimination, India reached the Caribbean even before their hosts, who exceeded expectations by qualifying for the semi-finals, where they lost to Sri Lanka.
For India, a team shaken by defeat, injury and fatigue, this series is the last before a long break until the Champions Trophy in September. They will do well to focus on the task at hand, rather than think about the lengthy rest their tired bodies deserve. India are weakened for they are without Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and Zaheer Khan, four key players either injured or resting because of their hectic schedule in recent months. Their unavailability, though, opens up rare opportunities for players on the fringes of the national squad such as Dinesh Karthik, S Badrinath and M Vijay because the Indian one-day side has been a settled unit for a while now. It also gives others, such as Ashish Nehra, a new lease of life for few would have expected him to return after four years on the sidelines.
West Indies' performance in the World Twenty20 was a dramatic improvement from their efforts during a torrid summer in which they lost both the Wisden Trophy and ODI series to England. Their run to the final four was especially heartening since Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons scored runs in vital games, disproving the belief that West Indies' batting is a three-man act of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan. Surprisingly, though, the selectors have left out Lendl Simmons from the squad for the first two games. There are other tweaks too, with Darren Sammy omitted, Runako Morton and Narsingh Deonarine recalled, and the uncapped Darren Bravo brought in.
ODI form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
India - LWWNW
India's last ODI series was the five-match contest in New Zealand which they won 3-1 with one washout.
West Indies - LLNLL
West Indies' last five one-dayers were all against England and they didn't win any, losing two at home and two away with one being abandoned.
Watch out for ...
Ashish Nehra: The left-arm medium-pacer last played an international for India in September 2005 after which a spate of injuries kept him out of contention. However, a strong performance in the IPL, where Nehra was the third-highest wicket-taker with 19 at 18.21 each, coupled with the axing of Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan, paved the way for his return.
Darren Bravo: If he's anywhere near as skilled as his sibling Dwayne, India have a problem on their hands. Darren Bravo's an unknown quantity to people outside the Caribbean, having played only 15 first-class games and eight List A matches for Trinidad & Tobago. It will be interesting to see what responsibility he's given, if he plays, in the first two games against India.
India have a few decisions to make regarding the composition of their final XI. Should Rohit Sharma continue opening in Sehwag's absence? Or should he move down the order to give Vijay or Karthik a chance at the top? What of S Badrinath? Another worry for the team management is the delayed arrival of Karthik, Vijay and Badrinath due to issues with obtaining a transit visa to England. They were scheduled to arrive in Jamaica on Thursday evening.
India (likely): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Dinesh Karthik, 3 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 RP Singh, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Simmons' omission from the West Indies squad was surprising considering he scored 150 runs during the World Twenty20, including a 50-ball 77 against South Africa, and took a four-wicket haul in the group match against Sri Lanka. They also omitted Darren Sammy who has been an underrated allrounder in the West Indian outfit.
West Indies (likely): 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Runako Morton, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Darren Bravo, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Jerome Taylor, 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Suleiman Benn, 11 Lionel Baker
Stats and trivia
- West Indies have won four out of their last five ODIs in Jamaica - against India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland. India have played only two ODIs at Sabina Park of which they lost one and won the other.
- Only once has a team made more than 300 at Sabina Park: Pakistan made 349 against Zimbabwe during the 2007 World Cup. The highest target successfully chased there is 254 when South Africa made 255 for 2 against West Indies in 2005.
"West Indies are playing good cricket at the moment. They had a very good World Twenty20 tournament, but in 50 overs, you have time to settle down."
MS Dhoni is aware he is up against an in-form team
"Both teams are looking to win and they (India) are trying to prove something against us. At the same time we want to get more wins under our belt and continue our development."
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo