Here is the continuation from the previous post.
First of all, I like it a lot that the selectors finally gave in to the player's requests and chose to rest Dhoni, Sachin and Zaheer for the T20 and ODI leg of the WI tour and in Sachin's case, for the entire tour. With Veeru and Gautam also out injured, we are looking at a new-look Indian side and a new captain in Suresh Raina. For Raina, this is the opportunity of a life time and I am sure, even he will be surprised at the turn of events that have suddenly catapulted him to the most demanding job in cricket (actually, the most demanding job in cricket right now, is being captain of Pakistan :), but this one should be close to the top). In fact, if ever being captain of India had less expectations and pressures, it is now, right after a World Cup win and with more than half of that squad missing, against a low profile team that should not pose too many problems. So in that aspect, Raina is lucky with the timing of his captaincy assignment.
Most of the squad members selected themselves, so I am pretty happy with most of the team. The pace attack looks a little weak, with PK, Munaf, Ishant and Vinay Kumar, especially with the unpredictability of Ishant and the sameness of Munaf's bowling, but the West Indian batting is definitely not one to be feared, especially without Gayle and Pollard who have not been selected for the first 2 ODIs and the T20. Spin bowling is pretty good with Ashwin, Harbhajan, Mishra and Yuvraj. I am once again sad for Ashwin as I think he will again not get many chances, though he deserves to be selected in every game, especially after what he did in the IPL finals. With Harbhajan being vice-captain, he will definitely play every game and I am afraid the team management will still think in traditional ways that it is not necessary to play two off-spinners and will instead pick Mishra or a third seamer for "variety". If that happens, it would be sad because I have always said that Bhajji and Ashwin are very different bowlers, with their roles also being different as Ashwin can be used up front and Bhajji in the middle overs. Let us see if the they follow the traditional path or whether they have the sense to think out of the box.
Regarding the batting, I believe these are the best of the lot from the reserves. I am happy for Badrinath who has finally got his due after showing so much consistency in the recent past including the IPL. Rohit probably deserves another chance and in the absence of Veeru and Gauti, Vijay is the right choice. Tiwary also deserves a chance after his recent showing in the IPL where it looked like he has taken his batting to the next level that he promised a couple of years ago when he was first selected for the Indian team. I am not so convinced that Shikhar Dhawan deserves a spot ahead of someone like Rayudu. I suspect Dhawan is there because they chose Parthiv Patel as the keeper and opening batsman to partner Vijay, and then decided that they needed to cover for Patel on both fronts, so they brought in Wriddhiman Saha and Dhawan :) I know this does not sound nice, but I am glad they did this, as I dont like what I am seeing from Patel on both counts - keeping and batting, so I am definitely not complaining that they covered both options that Patel provides.
I think India should win the series against WI - the T20 as well as the ODI series. Let us look at the tests later once the ODIs are over.
Lets hear it from you guys now. Its time to talk cricket again, with the Indian team having some tough assignments in the near future like the England tour and the Australia tour after that. But the WI series should be a good one for the players to become prepared for tougher battles ahead and also for the new coach Duncan Fletcher to get his feet wet and get to know the players without worrying about a tough opponent right away.
I will post regularly during the WI series, so stay tuned and keep the comments coming.