November 21, 2013 2:48:39 am
It could be argued that this three-match ODI series,from India’s point of view,could have been used to test the bench strength. India are assured of retaining their No. 1 position irrespective of the outcome of the series,which starts at the Nehru Stadium on Thursday. The West Indies,on the other hand,are ranked seventh and are still smarting from the hiding they received in the Tests.
But as MS Dhoni said,India are under pressure to win whenever they play,and have little scope to experiment. A full-strength India will take on Dwayne Bravo’s West Indies. India haven’t lost an ODI series or tournament this year. They beat England at home and then won the ICC Champions Trophy in England,the tri-series in the West Indies,a bilateral series in Zimbabwe and a home series against Australia.
They’ve successfully chased 350-plus targets twice in their last five completed matches. The West Indies,on the other hand,failed to qualify for the semifinals of the Champions Trophy,didn’t make the final of the tri-series at home and lost a bilateral home series against Pakistan.
On the face of it,this is a mismatch,but ODI cricket is a funny format. The hosts,moreover,have their own problems. The big totals against Australia notwithstanding,their middle-order was a cause for concern,with Yuvraj Singh scoring 7,0,0 and 12 in the four innings he played and Suresh Raina faring only a shade better,scoring 39,17,16 and 28.
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“It’s important they both score runs,” said skipper MS Dhoni. “No. 4 and 5 are very crucial slots. They set the platform for the death overs.”
He went on to give Yuvraj a specific prescription. It’s very important for Yuvraj to enjoy the game … Practice hard without thinking about performance. Conditions would be tough here,because it’s very humid out there. But Yuvraj must enjoy his batting. Once you stop enjoying,things become difficult. It’s true for every cricketer,” said Dhoni.
On featherbeds against Australia,the bowlers leaked runs freely. The Nehru Stadium surface,however,might assist them a little. The spinners could get some purchase later on,and the pitch,which is still damp,could cause the odd ball to stop. Dhoni might have to think hard about his combination,particularly his third seamer.
Vinay Kumar went for 102 runs in nine overs in the final ODI against Australia,and was restored to the squad only after Dhawal Kulkarni was injured. It is unlikely that Vinay will be preferred over Jaydev Unadkat or Mohit Sharma.
Between the two,it’s a tight contest. Unadkat bowled six overs against Australia in Ranchi and went at less than a run-a-ball without being too penetrative. Mohit,meanwhile,had a couple of good outings in Zimbabwe.
India have another issue to deal with. Ravindra Jadeja is said to have recovered from the shoulder strain that kept him out of the Tests,but didn’t attend Wednesday’s nets,spending time with the physio instead. It remains to be seen if he plays.
The West Indies will be happy they are back playing a format they enjoy.
“Test series is behind us and limited-overs cricket gives us more freedom. We feel more comfortable and confident in this format. And we have the talent,” said Dwayne Bravo.
Bravo,Johnson Charles,Jason Holder and Sunil Narine have arrived without any baggage from the Test defeat and on paper their ODI unit looks stronger than the Test squad. Kieron Pollard’s absence,however,diminishes their middle-order firepower.
Most of all,the visitors will need Chris Gayle to fire. His scores in his last five ODIs were 1,1,8,30 and 21,and the poor run saw him drop down the order midway through the series against Pakistan.
Samuels will bowl
Meanwhile,Bravo confirmed that Marlon Samuels will be used as a bowler in the series. “Marlon has passed the tests all the time which is something to be taken into consideration. He’s available and will bowl,” said the West Indies captain.
Samuels and fellow off spinner Shane Shillingford were reported by the umpires for suspect action after the Test series against India.
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Richardsons Jamaica Farewell for Sachin
Richie Richardson gave Sachin Tendulkar a Jamaica Farewell in the newly-unveiled Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) pavilion that was renamed after the Little Master on Wednesday. The West Indies team operations manager started strumming C Minor though it was nothing short of A Major performance. The mood lifted even as the old classic reflected the void.
The former West Indies captain dropped in to check the Tendulkar photo gallery after MS Dhoni inaugurated the new pavilion. Richardson joined Charles Antony,a local,in performing Bob Marleys Buffalo Soldier. Richardson,an amatuer guitarist was enjoying the Marley session but Harry Belafontes Jamaica Farewell was his personal choice. Smartly,Antony,handed over his guitar before they sang: But Im sad to say Im on my way / Wont be back for many a day…
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