Team India is all set to play in its last home series before the 2015 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand from February. India are hosting a long series against West Indies, consisting of five ODIs, one off Twenty20, followed by three Tests.
It’s probably the last chance, especially for the fringe players, to leave an impact at the right time to book their tickets to Australia for the prestigious ICC tournament.
At the same time, it’s a good opportunity for Indian regulars as well, not only to consolidate their place in the side, but also to regain their lost form or confidence by having some good performances under their belt, before they leave for the toughest tour of the year – to Australia in December.
Indian selectors have picked the 14-member squad for the first three ODIs against West Indies, starting from October 8. The surprise package was certainly the unorthodox left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has been picked in the squad after his impressive performance in the recently- concluded Champions League Twenty20. The chinaman bowler hogged most of the limelight, while playing for Kolkata Knight Riders. With the Indian call up, he has become the first Indian chinaman bowler to make it this far. Though, Ravichandran Ashwin has been rested, chances of Yadav making his debut in the series are quite bleak in the presence of two seniors -- Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja. However, there is no doubt, he is an exciting young talent and will get many chances in the future to prove his mettle.
For fringe players like Mishra, Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Umesh Yadav, this would be a crucial ODI series in terms of the forthcoming World Cup. Mishra, who during his formative years lived in the shadow of Harbhajan Singh and now is struggling to cement a place in the side because of Ashwin and Jadeja, has a golden opportunity to prove his credentials to Dhoni, for one more time.
While playing for India, Umesh Yadav’s performance has been quite erratic thus far. Though he has got enough pace, he needs to work harder on his line and length. This home series is a good chance for him to show that he has come off age, and if given a chance, can be deadly on the Australian pitches, where he will get that extra bit of pace and bounce.
On placid Indian tracks and in front of West Indies' average-looking bowling attack, two Indian batsmen - Vijay and Rayudu - will once again try to play some match-winning knocks to further strengthen their case for the World Cup squad.
But one Indian batsman, who will be hungry and literally craving for runs would be Virat Kohli. After having a forgettable England tour, where he was all at sea, the stylish right-hander will look to gain his lost form back and score heavily.
However, it’s a big blow for Rohit Sharma, who will miss the series due to a finger injury, especially at a time when biggest cricketing extravaganza is mere four months away.
On the other end, in the absence of two match-winners -- destructive opener Chris Gayle and mystery spinner Sunil Narine – the West Indian team under the captaincy of Dwayne Bravo is not looking upright to beat India at their own backyard. So for now, it’s time for some calypso fever in India as the series kicks off on Wednesday, and will last little over a month.