My rupees would be on India

INDIA have their best chance of winning a series away from home, after many years, in their current tour of the West Indies.

The Windies still have plenty of problems, not least is how to balance the actual team, but also to satisfy the many countries that make up the West Indies team.

It has always been a difficult task of making all countries happy. During their great period from 1975 to 1995, some of the islands were happy to bask in the reflected glory, even if there were no representatives from their islands.

Now it is all different as the West Indies struggle to rebuild. Since they were beaten by Australia to lose their first series in two decades, over 40 players have been asked to represent the Windies.

Some selections had a sound base, while others smacked of the shot gun method, where selections were made of different players hoping that some would make it. Invariably this is done to secure a quick fix or a quick victory. Inevitably these tactics don't work.

Some selections are also politically driven as they try to pacify the calls from the cricket officials of the countries.

There is nothing new about this and all countries including India and Australia have suffered from this at some time.

Natural talent has not deserted the youngsters in the West Indies nor has American sports such as basketball stolen the hearts and ambition of these youngsters.

Cricket is still the game of choice and passion in the Windies.

Unfortunately too much success over so many years gave youngsters the false notion that just being born in the Windies entitled them to be world beaters.

It isn't and with little good coaching and no development programmes the youngsters haven't come up to scratch.

In addition, of course, most of the greats of the past such as Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall and Gordon Greenidge, just to name a few, honed their skills and toughness in English county cricket.

Declining skills and often poor attitudes had made the emerging players of Windies, less attractive proposition these days.

While the Windies struggle, India under John Wright seem to be developing a tougher edge to their cricket. The team selected contains a nice blend of seasoned successful players plus a group of exciting youngsters.

I must admit that I was surprised to see that Ajit Agarkar has been left out of the party.

Fast medium pace bowlers who can swing the ball have always been successful against the Windies and particularly in the Caribbean islands where sea breeze enables the ball to swing about.

Australia's Neil Hawke and Max Walker who both move the ball through the air were outstanding in the Windies.

However, the Indian bowling still looks competent, led by the experienced and successful Javagal Srinath. The new ball attack looks capable.

Left-hander Zaheer Khan, providing if he does not try for too much pace, should have a successful tour.

Traditionally, the West Indies have trouble in understanding where their off-stump is and play the balls leaving it open.

Khan can have success if he concentrates on line and length. Indeed this must be the Gospel for all the bowlers.

The current West Indies batsmen are still fine hitters of loose balls. However, they are also very impatient and if tied down, will launch a fearsome and often fatal shots which are not suitable for such treatment.

The Australians finally broke the Windies strangle hold on Test cricket mainly due to the unerring accuracy of Paul Reifell and Glenn McGrath.

They teased and frustrated all the batsmen, including Brian Lara, into mistakes. They denied loose deliveries. The Indian bowlers must keep the batsmen quiet and deny them any freebies.

If they do they will force them into mistakes. The strong Indian batting line up should have a bonanza. The fear factor has finally gone out of the West Indies attack. While there are a few bowlers who have a little zip, they generally lack cohesion in line and length.

Unlike the fearsome combination of the likes of Holding, Marshall, Walsh, Croft, Ambrose, Roberts and co the current group can't sustain the unrelenting pressure that brought so much success to those great bowlers of the past.

If I was a betting man my rupees would be on India.