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June 25, 2009
Javagal Srinath, the former India fast bowler, has rubbished suggestions that the ODI series between India and West Indies is a meaningless encounter, saying it's one of "high significance". India's decision to play four ODIs has been criticised because it comes at the end of a long and hard season.
Srinath, however, counted the positives. "It's good India are playing a series as soon as this after their debacle in the World Twenty20," he told Cricinfo. "It will help them kill the demons, especially those raised by the media. This has been such a good team in recent times. They had set such a high standard; they haven't lost many ODI series. They stumbled a bit in the World Twenty20 but I am not going to make a big deal of it. I am sure they will do well. On paper, India should win."
India are missing the services of Zaheer Khan and their fast-bowling attack comprises Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, making a comeback after four years, Praveen Kumar and RP Singh. Ishant struggled a touch in IPL and the World Twenty20, Praveen battled with injury problems during the IPL and didn't get a game in England, and RP Singh was not a regular in the World Twenty20. Srinath, however, believes they will be a potent unit.
"Ishant will be the leader of the pack in Zaheer's absence. Yes, he didn't have a great time in the IPL and in the World Twenty20 but this is a great platform for him to make amends. And look, he has not done well only in terms of the huge expectations of him. This is 50-over cricket now and I expect him to do well. He will be better off for having played in the IPL and the World Twenty20, more aware of the areas to improve."
India, he said, will miss Zaheer but that's why he reckons Nehra to be a great pick. "His experience will help fill the gap. I was impressed with how well he bowled in the IPL, even in pressure situations. He showed lots of energy and he has the skill to step in if Ishant doesn't do too well. His motivation levels must be pretty high; he is making a comeback after four years and I see him delivering from ball one. He is going to be an asset in this one-day team - Nehra is capable of taking that extra responsibility."
The third seamer's spot, he said, will be tough to pick between RP Singh and Praveen Kumar.
West Indies enjoyed some success against India in the World Twenty20 by deploying a bouncer strategy and Srinath reckons they will try to repeat it. "The pitches and the absence of Fidel Edwards will be handicaps and it might not work but it won't deter them from trying it."
Srinath - currently an ICC match referee - believes the pitches will be on the slower side but there will be a bit of moisture which will make the ball do something early on. "It will be a touch slow and low but I am expecting good batting tracks. There is bound to be some moisture and it might do a bit early on but let's just wait and see."
As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history