West Indies looking to cause ripples (Team Profile, World Cup Countdown)

By Bharat Sharma, IANS
Saturday, February 12, 2011

NEW DELHI - The once feared West Indies are a struggling unit today. Champions in the first two World Cups, they are looking to merely cause a few ripples at the 2011 edition.

The tussle between the administrators and top players has hit West Indies cricket hard. Though the issue got resolved and the likes of Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul are back in the side, performance wise the team has hit a new low.

The side has not a won a One-day International against a Test nation since June 2009. Their worst was when they were humbled by Bangladesh in a bilateral series that year.

Things should have changed with the return of star players, but that has not happened. They lost two matches in Sri Lanka in the run up to the mega event and they are now behind Bangladesh in the One-day rankings.

But newly-appointed team manager Richi Richardson sees the Word Cup as a platform to perform when the chips are down.

“I tell the players that we have to go out there and prove to the world that we can play cricket. Let’s surprise a lot of people, because people at the moment are not thinking very highly of us. But we have got to just focus on what we have to do, believe in what we can do and create a few upsets,” said Richardson, who led the team to the semi-finals of the 1996 edition.

Going by what the former captain says the team is certainly capable of upsetting a few big ones.

A batsman like Gayle is a huge plus for any team. He can provide a blistering start and can be useful with the ball in the middle-overs. If veterans Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan perform to their potential and support Gayle, the team will be able to post big totals consistently.

The team has two genuine all-rounders in Dwayne Bravo and captain Darren Sammy. Jamaican Andre Russell, who is yet make his ODI debut, is picked for a similar role. All eyes will be on maverick batsman Kieron Pollard, who is yet to replicate his T20 success in the 50-over format.

The bowling appears the weakest link. Too much is riding on pace sensation Kemar Roach as he is the only strike bowler. The two specialist spinners — Sulieman Benn and Nikita Miller — have been around for sometime, but have not been able to make a big impact in the international arena. The two left-arm spinners make the attack look a bit predictable. The dearth of wicket-takers means too much load on the shoulders of Roach and Bravo.

West Indies meet the formidable South Africa in their opening match in New Delhi Feb 24.

Squad: Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh (wicket-keeper), Andre Rusell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Adrian Barath.

Fixtures: Feb 24 vs South Africa (New Delhi), Feb 28 vs Netherlands (New Delhi), March 4 vs Bagladesh (Dhaka), March 11 vs Ireland (Mohali), March 17 vs England (Chennai), March 20 vs India (Chennai).

(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at bharat.s@ians.in)

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