New Delhi: The Indian cricket team that has gone to the West Indies has the brand value bigger than what it really deserves. The team that has landed on the Caribbean soil as the 'World Champion' hardly has the faces which would justify the tag.
A team that won the biggest cricketing prize will be without Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Zaheer. Not to mention that there will also be no Dhoni, the maverick captain under whose leadership the feat was repeated after 28 years.
All said, one cannot undermine the youngsters who have been roped in as the replacements of these seniors. They are a talented bunch of players but can they, till the seniors are back, guard the tag of 'World Champs' proudly and successfully?
The West Indies side may not be the strongest side in world cricket but it definitely is one of the most unpredictable teams. So what if they have Chris Gayle waiting outside the stadium for his turn. Let's not forget the Windies had advanced to the World Cup quarter-finals.
Pakistan, the World Cup semi-finalists, may have won the ODI series against the Caribbean side, but that result can overshadow the fact that the Windies gave them a tough fight. That was against a full-fledged (if troubled) Pakistan team.
And here we are with a team which lacks experience across the line up. It is a good time for Suresh Raina to test his credentials as a skipper. Can he bring out the best from his players and also perform as a player?
One player I am really interested in watching play is Rohit Sharma. He is an extremely talented chap but highly inconsistent. This tour may just be the opportunity for him to script his comeback in to the side if he’s keen on doing that.
And how can we forget our new coach Duncan Fletcher. Stepping in to Gary Kirsten’s shoes is not an easy task. Kirsten took the Indian team to the pinnacle and Fletcher would be expected to maintain the success graph. Any downhill movement may not be accepted calmly by the fans.
And, Fletcher could not have started his innings as the Indian coach at a better place as it was in the West Indies that he ended his tenure as England coach and has not been associated with a national team since then.
So this West Indies tour might be low on star value, it is promising nevertheless. The players, the team, the coach and the skipper, all have the chance to test themselves before a hectic and tougher season ahead.