For India, the Test series was all about giving a fitting farewell to Sachin Tendulkar, and they successfully did the same. West Indies did play their part, in the sense that they were invited for the series with the knowledge that it would be easier to beat them than most other Test teams. But now, the 2-0 Test triumph as well as the Tendulkar farewell is history. It’s time to get back to cricketing business with the ODI series, which kicks off with the opening one-dayer at Kochi on Thursday.
Weather permitting, the Windies will be expected to put up a better fight in the 50-over format for their game is more suited to this version of the game. Of course they are the masters of T20. India will still begin as favourites, being the home team and the stronger of the two sides. Make no mistake, we are talking about the World Cup champions as well as the Champions Trophy champions here. With a young team that is gaining invaluable experience with each game and is improving by leaps and bounds, India will be expected to put it across the Windies without much trouble.
India will go into the one-dayers on a high, having come from behind to beat Australia at home in a tightly-contested series just before the West Indies arrived for Tendulkar’s farewell. Since it was a series full of runs, most of batsmen hit themselves into great form, and will be expected to continue the same. The tide has finally changed for Rohit Sharma. Having stroked a double century and a century against the Aussies, he entered Test cricket with two hundreds. The Mumbai lad has had numerous ups and downs, and would want this great run to continue for as long as possible.
It is hard to imagine that till a while back, Shikhar Dhawan was the next big thing in Indian cricket, but Sharma’s amazing efforts have pushed his one-day opening partner into the background. Dhawan himself came up with a couple of scintillating knocks during the series against the Aussies, and would like to get some more in the series against West Indies. He had a disappointing Test series, getting starts and throwing it away. Thus he would be keen to make amends in the one-day matches, with his much-admired batting exploits.
Virat Kohli played a couple of his belligerent knocks during the series against Australia, including that record-breaking fastest hundred. He would only be too keen to continue the good work. Two batsmen for whom the series would be extremely critical are left-handers Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh. Both struggled against the pace and bounce, especially from Mitchell Johnson. If they don’t perform against the weak Windies as well, their places could be under the scanner. Bowling wise, India would depend on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami as well as the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin. Newcomer Dhawal Kulkarni would also be keen to grab his chances with both hands.
--By A Cricket Analyst