India seek redemption in WI ODI series
NEW DELHI: India start their campaign on Friday to put the bad memory of their failure in the World Twenty20 behind them, when they face West Indies in the first One-day International of the four match series.
India and their opponents settle back down to the bump and grind of 50 overs-a-side matches, following a heavy diet of Twenty20 cricket for several of the players in the form of the second edition of the Indian Premier League in South Africa, and the World Twenty20 in England.
But it's the World Twenty20 which is still fresh on the minds of the Indians.
They entered the competition as defending champions, and finished empty-handed, much to the chagrin of their legions of supporters at home and around the world.
They were humiliated, when they exited the competition following three defeats in the Super Eight stage, including a seven-wicket loss to the West Indies.
Tiredness and injuries were some of the factors advanced for India's demise, but they have had close to two weeks to relax and recharge the batteries.
Against this backdrop, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has asked his players to come forward and be truthful about their fitness ahead of the series.
"For me, it's the team first and then the individuals and I'd hope it's the same with everyone else in the group," Dhoni said.
"If rest is the cure for an injury, a cricketer ought to opt for it rather than let fatigue or niggles become a major setback to him and to the team.
"If anyone wants to take a break from the game, they should let me know or the BCCI."
India have also had time to beef-up their personnel for the four-match series to mitigate against the injuries which have robbed them of star batting duo Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, the latter of whom was sorely missed in the World Twenty20, plus Zaheer Khan and Suresh Raina.
However, the new recruits have encountered a few difficulties with getting visas to travel through Britain.
Now ranked as the third-best ODI side in the World, India will see this as a chance to leapfrog Australia, and take aim at chart-toppers South Africa, setting the stage for another invigorating series.
India hasn't played an ODI series since they prevailed in New Zealand in March, but they have lost only three of their last 18 matches, and have emerged as one of strongest ODI sides over the last year.
But they face a West Indies side with their own demons to exorcise, following a miserable Test and ODI series against England.
The home team, however, marginally redeemed themselves with a semi-final place in the World Twenty20 in which they beat England to reach the final four.
They enter the series however, as strangers in their own land, since India have been in the Jamaica capital getting down to business since last Friday, and the West Indies players - including a few fresh faces - only started arriving on Tuesday.
West Indies coach John Dyson will instruct his side to play aggressive cricket to push the Indians to the limit.
"We will play aggressive cricket, we will play to win as always, and we will aim for consistency," said Dyson.
"We always look at the opposition and try and determine who the key players are for the opposition and think of ways that we may combat those key players.
"What we don't know, of course, is from the lower-profile players, how they are going to perform and perform consistently throughout a series. So that's something we have to monitor as the series progresses.
"(Winning) - it depends on the sort of pitches we're playing on, the conditions of the day, and the form of our own players, and the opposition players."
The short ODI series against India is part of a busy home programme for West Indies, who also host Bangladesh for two Tests, three ODIs and a T20 International in July and August.
West Indies: Chris Gayle (capt), Denesh Ramdin, Lionel Baker, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Sulieman Benn, David Bernard Jr, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Runako Morton, Ravi Rampaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf Pathan, Murali Vijay, Subramaniam Badrinath, Rudra Pratap Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Abhishek Nayar, Ashish Nehra, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik