India depleted, but success expected in Caribbean
A depleted India begin their tour of the Caribbean with a familiar format, playing a Twenty20 International against West Indies on Saturday at Queen's Park Oval.
Bereft of a number of their star players, like World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, opener Virender Sehwag, and left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan, the visitors are still heavily favoured to topple their opponents.
All of their players were involved in the Indian Premier League, so the format should pose little or no trouble, neither should the conditions in the Caribbean, which are not so dissimilar to their homeland.
"The Indian Cricket Board has been very kind to the players and have allowed them some rest and we must respect this," said stand-in India captain Suresh Raina.
"Those guys have been performing well for India for quite a long time, and they deserve a break.
"We have a young team here, and they are focussed on doing well for India, and I am excited to see them perform over the next few weeks."
Raina promised that the Indians would play a brand of the game that upheld their reputation as the No.1 Test side in the World and World Cup champions.
"We are very excited to be here in the West Indies to play cricket, and let me say that we are going to give of our very best while here," he said.
"We have won the World Cup, and now it is time to move on, and before us is the West Indies series and we have to deal with it as best as we can.
"The West Indies team has been playing good cricket for the past few months, and we are not going to take them lightly."
None of the West Indies' IPL stars have been included in their squad.
Chris Gayle, the leading scorer in the competition, faces a meeting with the hierarchy of the selectors, West Indies management, and team management over his ill-starred radio interview last month.
Neither Kieron Pollard nor Dwayne Bravo, a member of the IPL-winning Chennai Super Kings, has been chosen because they did not play in the Caribbean T20 Championship, ruling them ineligible under the selection policy.
Uncapped left-arm fast-medium bowler Krishmar Santokie is included in an otherwise hugely untested squad, which otherwise has no changes from the side that beat Pakistan last month in St. Lucia.
West Indies can take heart from the knowledge that they have not lost either of the two T20Is they have contested against the Indians.
Two years ago, they beat them by seven wickets at Lord's in the World T20, in which they also beat them last year at Kensington Oval by 14 runs.
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy (captain), Christopher Barnwell, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Danza Hyatt, Ashley Nurse, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons
India (from): Suresh Raina (captain), Harbhajan Singh (vice captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Subramaniam Badrinath, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary
Umpires: Norman Malcolm (WIS), Peter Nero (WIS)
TV umpire: Joel Wilson (WIS)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)
Reserve umpire: Gregory Brathwaite (WIS)
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