West Indies Tour – Time to test the bench strength

The Indian selectors were forced to sort of send an A team to West Indies under Suresh Raina as most of the senior players decided to either rest or missed out due to injury. The biggest offenders were Sehwag and Ghambir as they were already aware of their injuries but still decided to participate in the IPL. Sachin and Yuvraj also requested the selectors to be omitted from the squad to the West Indies. The funniest part is that these same players decided to play through the IPL even though they were exhausted after an emotional World Cup triumph. An international series treated with such scant respect is something hard to imagine.

Even though the seniors miss out from the series, this for sure gives us an opportunity to test out our bench strength. Suresh Raina who will be captaining the side will be aware that this isn’t going to be an easy series. No matter which team turns up for this series, India are expected to win both the test and ODI series comfortably against a weak West Indies side. This will be Duncan Fletcher’s first series as Indian coach and he will get the firsthand account of India’s bench strength. For the youngsters though this will be a great opportunity to showcase their talent at the international arena.

Players like Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, and Shikar Dhawan would for sure get an extended run in the 5 match series and they would hope to cement their places in the ODI squad. The ODI team tough would probably suffer the least as we still have Raina, Rohit, Parthiv Patel and Kohli in the team who has played quite a few ODI’s for India. The bowling also has lots of experience in the presence of Bajji, Munaf, Praveen and Ishant along with Ashwin and Mishra. So the ODI team in all probability should do reasonably well but the major issues will be with the test squad which is missing three major players in the top of the order.

The test team will mark the debut of Abhinav Mukund, the dashing opener from Tamil Nadu who has a brilliant domestic record. He will join Murali Vijay at the top of the order. Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and captain Dhoni will have to probably guide the middle order which might consist of Kohli/Badri/Raina in the mix. The bowling though will be at its full strength in the presence of Zaheer, Sreesanth, Ishant, Munaf and Bajji. The selectors have done a decent job with the team selection considering that they were left with no option.

The ODI series begins tomorrow and it gives a depleted WI team a great opportunity to challenge an under strength Indian team. The series for sure will be competitive and Raina will surely want a better series as captain than the one he had in Zimbabwe last year. The series will be important for few youngsters who would want to impress with some good performances. This series also gives us fans a peek into the future, a future without Sachin/Dravid and Laxman in the squad. This will also give us a chance to look at the options we have when the greats eventually hand up their boots. The series starts tomorrow with the one-off T20 game, which will be followed by 5 ODI games. The test series begins on the 20th of June for which Dravid, Dhoni, Zaheer and Laxman will join the team. An interesting series in the offing and in spite of the big names missing from the squad, team India should win both the series comfortably. Good luck to Raina and hopefully he can complete the ODI series with a win under his belt.

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