Onus is on West Indies

Onus is on West Indies

Hosts must keep rampant India at bay to stay in contention

Onus is on West Indies

The lack of star names on either side has made it a drab affair, and the pitch at the Queens Park Cricket Club in Port of Spain, the venue for the first two one-dayers, that carried as much pace as a slow driving lane had made the proceedings all the more frustrating.

“We had asked for pitches with some more bounce, but this is what we get. Hopefully, we have some better strips in Antigua,” West Indian skipper Darren Sammy had said after the second one-dayer.

It’s difficult to predict the effect a change of venue can have on the series. However, the pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium, where the third one-dayer will be played on Saturday, here offers a glimmer of hope. The 22-yard strip, according to locals, has a bit of bounce and carry, reminding about the good old days of Caribbean cricket.

It was a sorry sight to see batsmen gropping and prodding in Trinidad where spinners held sway emphatically. The matches were not a good advertisement for one-day cricket, especially when the current world champions, though a second-string side, are involved in it.

If local knowledge can be trusted, the third and fourth one-dayers to be played at this venue can provide those gripping moments. The return of Kemar Roach too adds to the excitement of the locals. The fast bowler, certainly the quickest on either side, was rested for the first two matches, and skipper Sammy hopes his inclusion will give a cutting edge to his team’s bowling that gave the  Indian batsmen a few nervy moments.
“Roach is the kind of bowler who brings in a bit of aggression and pace. If he gets the right kind of surface, then he can pose a few problems for any line-up,” Sammy said.
But that doesn’t solve West Indies’ problem. They need to stitch together a collective effort against a team that stands a few yards ahead in terms of individual talent. There are few names in the West Indian line-up who can match the ebullience of Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. The addition of Chris Gayle would certainly have bolstered their batting, but as things stand now, the Jamaican’s participation in the one-day series looks a remote possibility.

Definitely, it’s a sad miss but then the entire episode has gone beyond the realms of cricket, assuming the shape of a bitter ego war.

But if the Antigua strip can hold on to its reputation, the matches here can see a few intense moments, even without Gayle, and the news of Ravi Rampaul being rested came as a bit of a surprise in that context. The right-arm pacer was one of those who tested the Indian batsmen with his nagging accuracy and not inconsiderable pace, and he could have formed a formidable pair with Roach.

In comparison, India have almost zero problems. The form Parthiv Patel showed while notching up a fifty in the second one-dayer might have come a huge relief for the Indian camp, who had to face a few questions on the abilities of the Shikhar Dhawan-Parthiv pair at the pole position.

It’s a crucial battle for the West Indians as a defeat will hand them another series defeat, and the return of express quick Roach might make them feel good ahead of the match. But there’s no doubting the fact that it will take more than one player to stop this Indian side.

Teams (from):
India: Suresh Raina (capt), Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Shikhar Dhawan, Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, S Badrinath, Yusuf Pathan, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Wriddhiman Saha, R Vinay Kumar.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Carlton Baugh, Anthony Martin, Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Danza Hyatt, Andre Russell.

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