The trio looked a tad bewildered by the sudden excitement their entry caused among the fans, who came to see India’s practice session at the Barabati stadium, venue of India’s first one-dayer against the West Indies. Perhaps, they weren’t expecting the commotion, at least not on a training day that often whizzes past peacefully.
In the recent Test series against the West Indies, Ashwin was sensational, Yadav was impressive and Aaron too had his share of fame while making his debut at the Wankhede stadium. Now, their faces have been tattooed in the hearts of fans, a new set of stars for them to adore and celebrate.
But what the troika has seen on the day was just a trailer. The real deal will come on Tuesday, as nearly 45,000 spectators will throng the concrete stands, scrutinising every spell and every ball. They will expect nothing less than a perfect outing for them and in turn for Team India against the West Indies, who showed in the Test series, that they were no mere sidekicks in the Great Indian Show.
With the wily Praveen Kumar ruled out with a chest injury, Aaron and Yadav will have more responsibility on their broad but young shoulders. Ashwin will once again spearhead the spin department, and it’s not quite sure at this moment whether India will opt for a second spinner in Rahul Sharma or go in with three pacers – Aaron, Yadav and R Vinay Kumar.
Vinay has a good chance to make it to the final eleven because of his not so inconsiderable skills with the bat, and India also has the luxury of resorting to the part-time but more than handy spin of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma and stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag.
But the intricate mathematics of team combinations apart, the focus will remain on Aaron, Yadav and Ashwin. The 22-yard strip at the Barabati stadium, according to the local knowledge, is a staunch ally of batsmen, necessitating the trio to be at their craftiest best. It’s not a task beyond them as they had showed in the Tests against the Caribbeans on not precisely bowler-friendly surfaces, producing some refined spells.
The pitch here, and for that matter tracks throughout one-dayers against Windies, will not only offer a test of their skills, but their temperament too will be subjected to a harsh assay, as they will not have the assistance of the dust bowls that were on offer in the recent one-day series against England. Their performances in this series against a potentially explosive batting line-up that contains the likes of Kieron Pollard, Denza Hyatt and Lendl Simmons will offer a good picture about the young Turks’ character, and ability to maintain consistency ahead of hazardous tour of Australia next month.
It’s also imperative that India’s frontline batsmen fire as a unit for them to be more effective, as the West Indies have a bowling line-up that can cash in on even the slightest slip-ups. The likes of Fidel Edwards, skipper Darren Sammy, clever and tactful than pacy, leg-spinner Anthony Martin and Pollard can offer some uncomfortable moments even to the best in business on their day.
Indian top-order will be bolstered by the return of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma, all of them have been in excellent form in the domestic season so far, and if they hit their straps, the bowlers will have a formidable total behind them to defend. So, get ready for an interesting match and series.
India: Virender Sehwag (Capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel (wk), R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rahul Sharma.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (Capt), Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo, Danza Hyatt, Anthony Martin, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons.
Umpires: Tony Hill (New Zealand) and Shahvir Tarapore; Third Umpire: S Ravi; Match referee: David Boon (Australia).