Just fresh out of their Champions Trophy triumph in the UK, India have another challenge coming up quickly in the Caribbean. The tri-series with West Indies and Sri Lanka is surely bound to get as challenging as any tough overseas tour for Dhoni’s team.
As they are apparently the best team in the world in terms of talent and balance in the limited overs format, one would get an impression that MSD does not even have a scintilla of worry in his head about this team. And very rightly so. Their batsmen have been simply magnificent and the top order has fired spasmodically, and hardly have put any pressure on the middle order.
Actually, the very fact that a batsman of Suresh Raina’s caliber did not face more than 30 deliveries in the entire Champions Trophy elicits the efficacy of the top three batsmen. In addition to this, the intelligent bowling changes and acuity shown in the field by the fielders have also come of great help. The young guns under MSD have shocked and silenced a huge group of analysts and fans who were clamorous about sending a team with hardly any experience to England.
Batting : The Indian batting line-up would have seemed to be weak in comparison with the other two teams before Champions Trophy. But the young guns have proved the entire world wrong, and have proved that they can be as strong as a world class batting line-up can get.
One may always argue that the middle and lower middle order has seldom been tested in CT 2013. But the other three batsmen, namely Raina, Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik have already proved their class at the international level, and hence do not require any such tests. While Rohith, Shikar and Kohli can provide fiery starts and chastise the opposition with their superfluous stroke play and palatable timing, damage control and finishing can be safely handled by the experience of Dhoni, Raina, Karthik and Jadeja in the middle order. Also, the batting abilities of Kumar and Ashwin in the tail are not be forgotten.
Bowling : The cricket annals show that Caribbean pitches are more supportive of bounce, than swing. This might just reduce the effect of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and put more onus on Ishant and Yadav, who have shown the ability to bowl the rising length. The spinners Ashwin and Jadeja also might get some extra bounce out there, and they can prove to be lethal.
The death bowling is a cause for concern and Indians have to bowl their yorkers accurately, considering that the finishers in the opposition would be players like Perera and Pollard, who can simply cause depredation in no time. Tackling the marauding Chris Gayle in his own backyard will certainly be the biggest of challenges for the bowlers. However, a silver lining is that all the bowlers in this Indian attack except Yadav, have history of having troubled Gayle in the IPL.
Fielding : The Indian fielding was considered to be the best in CT. However, this is not likely to change in this series as well, although the West Indies who have stupendous fielders like Pollard and Bravo can come very close. Fielders like Kohli, Raina, Jadeja and Rohith have the ability of displaying excellent acuity in the field, and saving useful runs for their side.
Overall, emerging from a well deserved Champions Trophy win in England, Indians can be seen as the favorites to win this tour as well. Only time can tell whether they will live up to their expectations of batting well overseas and tackling the short ball well, or they are going to perish against the likes of Roach, Narine and Malinga.