Next stop: The Caribbean
SIVARAM V/REU TERS
Stand-in India captain Suresh Raina feels thatthe absence ofseniorcricketersduring the one day international series in the
Caribbean will be an ideal opportunity for those
who did well in domestic cricket to show their
performance at the international level.
‘It’s a great opportunity for the youngsters who
have done well in domestic cricket. I hope they
will do well,’ Raina, 25, said at the pre-departure
The Indian team will be playing in the ODIs without
Gautam Gambhir, prolific opener Virender Sehwag and
World Cup man-of-the-tournament Cup Yuvraj Singh — all
of whom are out with injuries. Regular skipper Mahendra
Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and senior pacer Zaheer
Khan have been rested keeping in mind the grueling two-
and-a-half month tour of England that starts in July.
‘I am really honoured to be leading the side,’ said Raina,
who will hand over the reins to Dhoni when he returns for
the three-Test series to be held after the conclusion of the
five ODIs. ‘I’m happy with the side as we have some very
good batsmen in Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, S
Badrinath, Shikhar Dhawan all of whom have done well in
first-class cricket. Badrinath especially has done well in
first-class cricket and deserves to be in the team. I hope we
will do well in the West Indies.’
The Indians were to start the tour with a lone T20 inter-
national at Port of Spain, June 4.
Coach Fletcher said he wants to go slow about this sup-
posed rotation policy of players.
‘While I was in England, I started the rotation policy rest-
ing senior guys,’ the new Indian coach said. ‘I was heavily
criticized by the English authorities. It’s important to do
that considering the heavy schedule. We need to look into
the matter as we go into the future. There is a lot of talent
in India and my job is to prepare these youngsters. It’s a
pleasure to blood them in ODIs.’
Asked about the club-versus-country debate, Zimbabwe-
born Fletcher said it’s not specific to cricket. ‘ That’s the way
it is in modern-day sports. We have to ensure that all the
players are fit enough,’ he said.
Raina said the onus was on the players to execute the
coach’s plans. ‘There’s always pressure and we have done
well under pressure,’ he said. ‘We have done well over the
last three years and have won the World Cup. We have to
play our natural game.’
Fletcher did not see the trip as an easy outing though the
Windies are not the same force they were in 1970s and
A man hits a ball with an improvised stick for a bat and umbrellas as stumps while playing cricket on a beach
in Kochi, Kerala, June 1; left, above, Suresh Raina. Left, below, Duncan Fletcher
Mission redemption for Fletcher
His first assignment as coach of the Indian cricket team is also a redemption mission for Duncan Fletcher; was in the West Indies four years ago that he last left as head coach of a national side. Fletched resigned as the England coach after a horrible run in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.
It added to the English’s bitterness of losing the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy finals to the West
Indies in 2004; the 2003 World Cup loss to Australia at Port Elizabeth and the Natwest series final where India hunt-
ed down 325 runs to win in 2002.
Even as recent as in the 2011 World Cup in India, Fletcher, as a consultant to the South African side, couldn’t help
the Proteas progress to the semifinals.
With Fletcher as coach, England won only 75 out of the 175 one day internationals they played with a winning per-
centage of 47.47. The wins included matches against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Namibia and the Netherlands.
In Tests though, England won 42 of the 96 matches they played under Fletcher, including the Ashes triumph of
2005 which secured the Zimbabwean’s reputation.
Fletcher had then bemoaned the lack of contribution from team’s number 9, 10 and 11 batsmen for England’s fail-
ure and this perhaps was the thinking which led him to fiddle with the batting order all too often.
Even though Fletcher’s real India test will be later this summer in England, he can’t afford to start on the wrong foot
and emboss further his poor reputation as a one-day strategist.
India has sent its second-string side to the West Indies which doesn’t look too bad given that West Indian Cricket
Board has contrived to weaken its own squad all the more.
Fletcher left India stating that the team had a plan to stay on top in the West Indies even though he cautioned his
wards not to take the hosts lightly.
‘Any team playing at home is difficult and we should not be complacent,’ Fletcher said.
His plan almost certainly will include a good dose of spin and sharp fielding inside the ring as West Indian batsmen
have conceded their inability to rotate the strike as their biggest falling.
Fletcher will have to make do with India’s medium-pacers even though his preference for 90-miles-per-hour-plus
bowlers is well known. He will also have to eschew his preference for openers who can put 100 runs regularly on the
board since India’s choice is Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel.
— Press Trust of India
‘Any team playing at home is difficult to beat. We should
not be complacent,’ said the new coach. ‘Yes, we would like
to beat England in England and Australia in Australia. But
the first job is the tour of West Indies. It’s very important
not to look too far down the road. India have a plan to stay
at the top. The young players have the potential and this
tour will show the depth of talent we have.’
Raina said the West Indies had some good all-rounders
in Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo. Asked about the like-
ly return of Indian Premier league sensation Chris Gayle
after the first two ODIs for which he had been left out,
Raina said, ‘We have (Ravichandran) Ashwin (who got
Gayle out for a duck in the IPL 4 final). It’s a good chal-
lenge for us.’
Raina said he learned a lot about captaincy from Anil
Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Dhoni. ‘They have captained
with a lot of honesty,’ he said.