It’s time to enjoy the Caribbean flavour

Rohit Sharma...the right man for the No. 4 slot.-AP

The Indians will need to rid themselves of complacency, as the West Indies does have the wherewithal and pluck to spring a surprise or two in the one-day format.

Team India will be keen to take on the West Indies in the ODIs at home, surged as it is with confidence after beating England comfortably. However, the Indians will need to rid themselves of complacency, as the West Indies does have the wherewithal and pluck to spring a surprise or two in this format. If any one nation that has benefited from the Indian Premier League, it is the West Indies. Most of the players in the current squad have been playing in the IPL, which means they not only know the conditions in India well but, most importantly, the mindset of the Indian players as well. Therefore, they will face the challenges that India can pose with a certain amount of relish.

Team India will obviously look to improve upon certain aspects of the game, if only to become more formidable. Yes, the World Cup is around the corner, but it is all about being in the present. Going by the performances over the last year, the big concern for the Indians is restricting the flow of runs at the death. Given the experience the bowlers have gained by playing in the IPL, it is bemusing that they have not developed the craftiness to manage the slog overs. The issue has been about not following the dictum of ODI cricket — line is mandatory. Wasim Akram does roll his arm over in the KKR nets now and then, and the consistency he displays in terms of line is exemplary. As a member of the squad put it, once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you never forget it. The point is, how soon does one learn it?

The other area that Team India will focus upon is the No. 4 slot. Though several options have been tried, I for one feel that Rohit Sharma is the best candidate for that slot. He may have scored a few runs at the top of the order, but he can contribute more to the side in the middle order. He is an instinctive stroke-maker and as such, he does look to play shots more often than not. He does look head and shoulders above the rest when in flow but for him to play in his natural way, he needs the shine taken off the ball. The flamboyant batsman that he is, as an opener Rohit may get a bit indecisive about the way he should approach given that a brand new ball is used form both ends.

I am not suggesting that Rohit is not capable of playing the new ball, but players like him, by and large, have been successful in the middle order. He has belted the best of bowlers playing in the middle order even for his IPL franchisee, which only lends some merit to my line of thought. If Rohit Sharma has to drop down to No. 4, then Vijay or Rahane need to partner Dhawan. These options have to be tried way before the World Cup in order to get a settled combination. Otherwise, it will be a tad difficult for the players to fit into a role given at the last minute.

The West Indies will rely on their fast bowlers and aggressive batsmen to upset India. The big hitters like Pollard and Sammy have enough experience but it will boil down to their ability to negotiate the Indian spinners. The spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja will have spring in their strides, aware that they will be bowling on responsive tracks. Of course, they have done well on flat tracks as well in the shorter formats but with just four fielders allowed to man the boundaries, they will hope to get as much help as possible from the surfaces. Regardless of what may transpire, one can hope to enjoy the Caribbean flavour in a large measure in the upcoming one-dayers.