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A riveting series!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jan 19, 2007
The ODI series against the West Indies starting on Sunday is looming as a make-or-break for the Indian team.

But this might be the best time for the home side to reverse the trend of defeats which began in March in the Caribbean when India were beaten 4-1 after winning the first game and just failing to win the second.

According to Tony Cozier, doyen of West Indian journalists, the team is in some disarray. Cozier, who is currently in India to report on the series, told me the contract disputes which have been bedeviling West Indian cricket for the last couple of years could have a negative impact on the side this time around since they are playing this series under protest.

Reason is: it was a late series requested by the Indian board and is not part of the understanding between the West Indian board and the players’ union.

It will also be the last occasion Indian fans will have an opportunity to see Brian Lara in action, at least in ODIs. He has already announced the World Cup to be held in his backyard will be his swansong, though he may continue playing Test matches.

The competition between Lara and Sachin Tendulkar promises to provide a fascinating spectacle.

Certainly Lara has been going through a purple patch, at least in Tests and his form in Pakistan recently was as sublime as ever.

The same can hardly be said for Tendulkar —his last century in Tests was in December 2005 against Sri Lanka and he was a disappointment in both the Test and ODI series in South Africa and continues to be tormented by one injury after another.

Still, things looked bleak just before the 2003 World Cup too for Tendulkar. And yet he came out on top to win the Player of the Tournament award. The failure to click in the final though must still rankle, particularly as he was gobbled up by his old nemesis, Glen McGrath.

The other point of interest will be the opening pair.

Will that old partnership of Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly be back again at the top or will Robin Uthappa be given another chance? And how long before Virender Sehwag forces his way back into the team?

With Munaf Patel injured and Irfan Pathan out of form and out of the team (at least temporarily), the composition of the opening bowling attack will also be keenly watched.

All in all, it should make for a riveting series.

 
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