Probably the last realistic chance for the "Men in Blue" to win a Test series in the Carribean. If you have a microscopic look at the last 3 series India have played (Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England), apart from the glaring fact that all these 3 series were played in the subcontinent, it was also observed that India played better in the 2nd half of the series. By 2nd half here, I mean that India played better in whatever came 2nd ... either the Tests or the ODI's. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I wont be surprised if this trend continues .....
But what exactly does Team India (God .... the names people give you for being good .... add Men In Blue to that list) need to do to overcome the Windies and more importantly, .... themselves. I guess all the young guns who have been firing for the last 3 series are facing a crisis for the first time in their relatively short careers. This means India will start a step behind the Windies. The youngsters in the Windies are in the same state as India's youngsters were until the last series. Youth can be a boon as well as a bane. Luckily, for India, they have a different set of players in the Tests. I guess the 2 most important additions are VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble. Laxman had a frutiful series here 4 years ago and looking at the way he has been writing columns in the newspapers regarding playing next year's World Cup, this could be his final chance to redeem himself. I remember the tour of Australia during 1999. Brett Lee was making his debut in that series. India had lost the first 2 tests very easily as was predicted by one Jaywant Lele (he really should have been an astrologer). Laxman tore into the Australian attack and painted a majestic knock of 160 odd runs. It had class, art, arrogance and it had an audience to admire. Due to his great performance in the Tests, he was included in the ODI team as well. Something similar needs to happen here if Laxman is harbouring hopes of being on the next Team India flight to the Carribean. Laxman needs to carry that pallete of colours with him to the Windies and maybe use and old brush (read bat). The canvas is set. All it needs is a good hand.
If you run down the Indian batting order, it should not surprise you that the more experienced of the 2 openers looks short on confidence at the moment. I always thought Sehwag was a bit over valued like the Sensex. The bubble was just waiting to burst. I may be proved wrong by the Butcher of Najafgarh, but with his technique, you can never predict an "innings" from him. Whatever he does will always be spectacular .... whether it is a double century or a low score. Jaffer, on the other hand looks the part, atleast at the moment. He too, had a good series when he played here 4 years ago. I really feel India should have had a ticket booked for Gautam Gambhir. He struggles on the slow and low wickets of the sub continent (pretty strange), but he would have had relished the wickets presented in the Carribean. He likes the ball coming on. Plus, a left-right combination would always trouble the bowlers. But it is widely believed, atleast in India, that if you perform one great feat, you are assured of playing for atleast a year or two, if not more. I believe Sehwag's triple ton at Multan will turn out to be his biggest ally.
Fortunately for India, the middle order in the Tests has more meat than in the ODI's. You have the skipper, the in form batsman ... Yuvraj, Laxman and a toss up between Kaif and Raina. Looking at the way Raina performed during the ODI's, I guess Kaif will get the nod. Dhoni finally has people speaking against him for a change. So he will have to come up with a remedy to end his barren run of scores. The bowling is a bit of a lottery for India. Pathan looks a shade of himself when it comes to the Tests. He didn't get a good return in the ODI's too. But India looks at Pathan as a bowling allrounder even though he vehemently denies it. I guess India need to make a call on Pathan though it looks certain that he will play. The 2 spinners are most certain to play leaving Sreesanth. Munaf and the in form Agarkar fighting for a solitary spot.
Can India defeat the Windies ? It looks like they will have to battle the demons within the team before they battle the Calypso Kings. All the best to India. For that matter, here's wishing both the teams the very best of luck. Cheers !!