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The juggernaut continues

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A week after a long, drawn out World Cup that featured 49 ODIs over 6 weeks, we had the IPL as cricket’s answer to Caligula. With the firm conviction that the Indian cricket fan has a bottomless appetite for cricket, 74 matches were shoved down our throats in 7 weeks. Again less than a week after the cricketing behemoth called the IPL finishes, the frenetic international calendar resumes with a tour of the West Indies.

The tour itself is fairly decently sized with 1 T20I, 5 ODIs and 3 Tests. But thanks to the hectic calendar and a fair share of injuries, India will be sending a side that will be far from full-strength. From the World Cup squad, only 6 out of the 15 will be playing with both Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla dropped, Tendulkar, Dhoni and Zaheer rested and Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Nehra injured. With 60% of the World-Cup winning side missing, Raina , who was dropped for the initial matches of the World Cup, will be captaining and Harbhajan would be the vice-captain (who could have imagined this). Considering how Chawla and Sreesanth performed, Praveen Kumar’s and Amit Mishra’s spots are not surprising and after spending some time in the sidelines, Ishant Sharma would like to make the best use of this opportunity. R Vinay Kumar makes his comeback after being carted against Zimbabwe and Australia. The batting line-up will be more competitive, where probably only Kohli and Raina would be assured of their place in a full strength-Indian side. Badrinath gets an opportunity after scoring tons of runs in every format while Dhawan and Tiwary get a second chance after they scored a combined total of 2 runs in their only ODI. Rohit Sharma gets another opportunity to make proper use of his so far unfulfilled talent and both Saha and Patel will unfortunately have to scrap for the reserve keeper’s spot.

The Test squad is thankfully more settled with Dhoni, Zaheer, Dravid and Laxman turning out in whites even if Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir will be missing. The Delhi opening pair’s absence will mean that the Tamil Nadu opening pair of Vijay and Mukund will almost certainly take their spot. Badrinath, Raina and Kohli will be battling for the 2 middle order slots and possibly give a glimpse of the future. The bowling is more settled though. The nature of pitch would decide whether India would need 3 seamers or 2 spinners. Both Sabina Park and Kensington Oval though have helped fast-bowlers while Dominica is an unknown quantity.

It’s as much an indictment of present-day cricket as of West Indies’ fall from the top that India’s top cricketers give top priority to a domestic competition over a tour of the West Indies. India though will find the limited overs leg more difficult than they might prefer although the team would be on stronger footing during the Test matches.

Final Prediction-

The T20I could go either way but India has the edge.

India to win the ODI series 3-2. India might have a weakened squad but the players still standing have enough ability to take the series.

India to win the Test series 2-0. Despite the absence of Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar, India is comfortably the superior Test team. I expect the 3rd Test at Dominica to be a dull draw.




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