Port of Spain, June 6: India are on their first assignment after capturing the World Cup and that title alone may be enough to intimidate a struggling West Indies side, as the hosts get ready to lock horns with the visitors in the first of five one-dayers. But this time the contest will be on an even keel. That's because the touring side is bereft of several senior players that would have sent shivers down the Windies spines.
With India's surfeit of experience out of the equation, a scintillating battle is on the cards. However, the Windies too will be deprived of the hard-hitting prowess of Chris Gayle and would almost certainly have to turn to their exuberant allrounders in Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard to compensate.
Plus, the Windies will be eager not to repeat the mistakes in their recently-concluded 5-match ODI series against Pakistan, which they lost 2-3. To that end, they will have to astutely negotiate the destructive spin of Harbhajan Singh especially R Ashwin, who's carrom-ball constitutes the stuff of legend.
It's a pity however that the Windies for their part, will be fielding just one specialist spinner in Devendra Bishoo. Though the young Guyanese has proved quite a revelation in the last few months, it looks like he is going to be short of support. One wonders why more spinners weren't included in the home squad, especially considering that the type of wicket at Port of Spain is suited to such.
The Indian batting line-up looks adequately robust coming off a fruitful Indian Premier Season. But today's match will show if all the Indians are capable of slipping back into the sensible, substantial play as opposed to the freneticism of Twenty20. Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan will be keen to make amends for the inauspicious start to his ODI career when he was out for duck to Australia last October.
Hopefully, the Windies fans will be out in force to cheer on their side which badly needs to return to its winning ways, or at the very least to give India are stiff run for its money...
India: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 S Badrinath, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina (capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Ishant Sharma/Praveen Kumar, 11 Munaf Patel.
West Indies: 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Kirk Edwards, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan/ Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Carlton Baugh (wk), 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Andre Russell, 11 Devendra Bishoo.