India vs West Indies 2013: Farewell alright but there are questions the India needs answers to


Sachin Tendulkar warming up but Dhoni and Fletcher has a few things to take care of

Sachin Tendulkar warming up but Dhoni and Fletcher has a few things to take care of

  • 3755 runs in this series – a world record for a bilateral ODI series.
  •  The 300-run mark was crossed 9 times in this series including five 350+ scores.
  •   Totals of 350 plus were chased twice, well almost thrice.
  •  And an overall of 107 sixes were hit in this series.

It’s over and thank God it is!

The 7-match ODI series between India and Australia was fun for the spectators, but the statisticians hated every moment of the series. Batting records tumbles right, left and centre while economy rates were sent soaring into the stands.

Finally, sanity has been restored (?) and India will shed their blue and don their whites to face up against the  West Indies in yet another meaningless battle between two very unevenly matched sides.

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If the ODI series against Australia didn’t hold much importance, this series against West Indies is as meaningless as it can be. However, the magic of BCCI has turned this series into the most celebrated series in the last two decades as it would see Sachin Tendulkar walk out of the Indian dressing room for the last time.

Kolkata and Mumbai, the two venues are already gripped with the “Tendulkar-fever” and the fan fare and the preparations of his farewell has been unprecedented and a few things have even left the maestro miffed.

And he has all reasons to be. He started his career against Pakistan, a side that boasted of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and he’s all set to end his career against the liked of Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach and Sheldon Cottrell. He would have ideally liked a battle against Dale Steyn as his last hurrah but in today’s cricket world you take whatever BCCI offers you, even if your name is Sachin Tendulkar.

Till now it’s been all Tendulkar. Nobody has cared about how the wickets would play or what’s the Indian team’s going to be like. Forget that, most cricket fans don’t even know the names of the players in the first eleven of West Indian team while quite a few are still confused about who really their captain is, Dwayne Bravo or Darren Sammy!

However, there’s still a game of cricket to be played. India has been outstanding in the 50-over format of the game but they haven’t yet been at their best in the longest format. Yes, MS Dhoni and his team inflicted a white wash in last series that they played on home soil yet the balance and the composition of the Indian Test team is far from being perfect. MS Dhoni has got it bang on for the 50-over format but the Test squad lacks solidity in quite a few departments.

India has a few problems to sort out in this series and they need to use this series as a litmus test before they take off to South Africa in December.

The openers

Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan

Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan

Although the opening partnership in the ODIs looks set, the Test opening slots are still up for grabs. Shikhar Dhawan made a rousing debut but till now has only played that one game. Murali Vijay was surprisingly good against the Australians but since then has done precious little in the ODIs and even in the domestic games.

Dhawan is a certainty for some time now but Vijay needs to score out of his skin in this series if he has to cement his place in the Test outfit. Ajinkya Rahane is snapping at his heels and who knows his failure may re-open the door for Gautam Gambhir as well.

Middle Order

Cheteswar Pujara and Virat Kohli

Cheteswar Pujara and Virat Kohli

It has been India’s strength in the last decade. They had a dream middle order that consisted of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. Three of the four are already gone and after the series against the Windies, Tendulkar will leave behind a crater that’s quite impossible to fill.

Cheteswar Pujara has been impressive till now at number three and Virat Kohli has looked comfortable at 5. But takes up number 4 and number 6? Will Virender Sehwag get the nod at 4 or will Rohit Sharma make the dream position his own? Or will Yuvraj Singh finally get a look in?

India has a huge pool of batting talent, so the names won’t be a problem but will they be worthy replacements?  That’s a question that BCCI and the team management will have to ask during and after the West Indies series.

Bowling

Umesh Yadav (23)

Umesh Yadav

India’s perennial problem area and after the Australia series, MS Dhoni’s worst nightmare. The spin bowling department might be in the safe hands of R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha but the medium pace contingent is up for review.

Umesh Yadav has been recalled for this series and Ishant Sharma retained. On the Indian pitches, Yadav should make the cut along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar with Shami and Ishant missing out but still leaving out Zaheer Khan has raised some eye brows especially after his trip back from France.

With Ravindra Jadeja out with a shoulder injury, India would lack a fifth bowling option and it would be interesting to see if Dhoni would opt for a fifth specialist bowler in Amit Mishra.

Quite a few questions to be answered but still India should walk through the series with a 2-0 victory margin. Even with the presence of Chris Gayle, the West Indies team is no match to India’s and should struggle to give India a run for their money.

However, that’s the fear. India crushed the hapless Aussies 4-0 and now they should trounce the Windies as well but will that infuse a false sense of security while embarking on the African Safari?

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