Kotla test : India start favourites

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Published: Saturday, November 5, 2011, 13:56 [IST]
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India's batting Vs Windies pace attack

New Delhi, Nov 5: Windies after their series win against Bangladesh, are fresh and raring to go as they prepare for the opener of the three match test series against India at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi starting on Sunday, Nov 6.

Team India is also preparing equally well for the first test against West Indies after their disastrous stint at England. The squad looks balanced with a strong batting line-up. Big guns Sachin, Virender Sehwag and Gautham Gambhir back after recovering from injuries, making the top order strong. Yuvraj's inclusion adds more valule to the middle order as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and Captain M S Dhoni happen to be the back bone of the batting line-up.

For the first time, India are playing an inexperienced bowling attack against West Indies at home. Having dropped Harbhajan and other strike bowlers Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan unavailable for selection due to injuries, the selectors took a brave decision though risky, banked on youngsters.

As always, Indian batting line-up needs no introduction, there is depth in the batting, and tons of experience in the likes of Sachin, Dravid and Laxman. But the concern would definitely be
on the bowling department as the maximum age of the bowlers has been less than 26.

Pragyan Ojha happens to be the most capped player with 11 tests and 42 wickets to his credit. The most talented spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also awaits his test debut. Not less than four bowlers are awaiting their test debut in this series.

Indian pace trio - Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are capable of bowling at 140 kms/hr. It is the first time India has opted for a pace attack that includes all the pacers touching the 140 mark.

Another surprising inclusion is that of Rahul Sharma, the rookie who is yet to don the Indian colors is also making his debut with this series. This uncapped player has been selected to represent the national side with a tremendous domestic performance. Though the absence of Zaheer and Harbhajan will be felt, there are loads of hopes on the youngsters as they shoulder the responsibility of spearheading the attack against the West Indies.

Another highlight ahead of the opener being Sachin's 100th ton. Master blaster is one century short of reaching another milestone which will definitely be a moment to treasure for all cricket fans.

The West Indies camp also seems to be equally positive as the West Indies coach Ottis Gibson says the team is high on confidence after playing extremely well sub-continental conditions. If spin is India's strength, West Indies are banking on their pacers to challenge the hosts.

West Indies' pace attack has been very effective over the last 12 months. Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy and Fidel Edwards have performed extremely well to help them win matches. Fidel Edwards and Devendra Bishoo being the pick of the bowlers after their five wicket hauls against Bangladesh in the recently concluded test series which they eventually won 1-0.

Visitors' batting order seems to be average, as their track record suggests that they have struggled to stay competitive in the series played away from home. Adrian Barath's return will strengthen the batting as the opener has recovered from hamstring injury.

Barath's knock during their home series against India in June made him a strong contender and returned to the side after recovering from an injury. Though he is very promising, this talented cricketer has not been able to convert those good starts to big knocks. Apart from Barath's inclusion, the team remains unchanged and are fielding the same team that played in Bangladesh.

West Indies' middle order looks settled. Denesh Ramdin as second wicket keeper, Shane Shillingford and Devendra Bishoo form the spin attack while captain Darren Sammy and three other pacers form the bowling department.

As we compare both the teams in the last two decades, India seems to be very strong. Six matches were played between the two teams since 1990 in the sub continent, and Windies have won only one test match while India has registered three wins and managed to draw two.

Though India lost the previous series against England 0-4, they have an amazing track record playing at home having won the home series against Australia and drew the series against South Africa. While the Windies have not been in great form in the last few months apart from the series win against Bangladesh and a home series win against England in early 2009.

Since 2008, WI team has played 13 series and managed to draw four while they have lost seven. With the above data, anyone can term India favourites due to home advantage, but all eyes are on the young and inexperienced pace attack.


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