After a satisfactory performance in West Indies' opening warm-up game against Kenya, Bennett King, the coach, has identified the bowling as the team's main weakness. Kenya made a fist of the target of 269, eventually going down by 21 runs and King expects a more disciplined effort from his bowlers against India at Trelawny tomorrow.
"We were disappointed with some aspects of the Kenyan game," King told The Jamaica Gleaner. "We are bowling far too many wides - three to four overs worth. That is an area in which we need to improve. We are also giving up boundaries off the last ball of the overs. We need to start working on finishing our overs properly."
King said that Brian Lara, the West Indies captain, was keen to spend some time in the middle, having not batted against Kenya. Lara has not played a competitive match since the tour of India which preceded the World Cup.
"Within the space of one or two days Brian is usually back to his best because of how much work he has done before," said King. "He is very keen to play, he is like a spring chicken at the moment. He is jumping out of his seat to play."
When asked about further changes to the line-up, King added that Ian Bradshaw, the left-arm seamer, will get an opportunity in the side's final warm-up match before the World Cup curtain-raiser against Pakistan at Sabina Park on Tuesday.
"Bradshaw has not been playing a lot of cricket for Barbados so he is someone that needs work. He really needs some bowling under his belt so Friday will be another opportunity for him."
Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, said that his side would adopt a similar strategy and allow all the players in the squad to fine-tune themselves. India coasted to a 182-run win against Netherlands on Tuesday and Dravid hoped that his side would maintain the momentum against West Indies.
Looking at the bigger picture, Dravid felt that India's World Cup campaign will hinge on the contributions of their seniormost players, including himself. He added that their experience will be crucial in tackling the middle overs.
"We've got a lot of experience, we've played a lot of cricket so we feel that during those middle overs we can do a job for the team and also, I think even when chasing, and finishing games," he said. "I see myself along with people like Yuvraj [Singh] and [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni as people who can stay to the end and try to finish games and play according to the situation."
Five issues that India will be looking at in Friday's match
- Will Sehwag fire? Nobody in India can stop wondering when Virender Sehwag is going to convert starts into fifties and fifties into hundreds. It's been 57 matches since he got to three figures in one-dayers. The situation is exactly the same as it's been for many months: the time is now.
- And Pathan? If Indians are fed up of pondering Sehwag's form, there's always Irfan Pathan. The performance against Netherlands was bland (barring a sliver of hope when he curved one and nailed an lbw). A strong performance against West Indies will boost his morale no end; another hammering will lead to more contemplation.
- The young guns With Sourav Ganguly twisting his ankle, and likely to miss the match, India may get another glimpse of Robin Uthappa and/or Dinesh Karthik. Both have potential but the manner of their dismissals against the Dutch wasn't the sort that you'd like to see too often. The success of either could create pleasant headaches for the team management.
- The extra fast bowler Sreesanth or Munaf Patel? With Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar certain to start, and Irfan Pathan providing some sort of allround option, it's unlikely that both will find a berth. If they're tested today, it will be interesting to see who stands out - or, if you are pessimistic, who gets hammered less.
- All-round sync Traditionally India start tournaments sluggishly, and some shots against the Dutch appeared straight out of the cobwebs. They'd need to wipe off the rust at the earliest otherwise the opening clash against Bangladesh will take on threatening proportions. Already Bangladesh have upset New Zealand and rolled over Scotland. India can't afford to sleepwalk into that game and this one provides the ideal launching pad.
West Indies vs India
World Cup Warm-up Matches
ICC World Cup