A second-string India’s dominance in the ODI series against the West Indies has raised questions about the quality of the host team, leaving visiting skipper Suresh Raina livid as he feels this amounts to belittling his young side’s good show.
“Earlier you termed us a young (second-string) side. Now you are terming the opposition too weak,” said Raina, when asked whether India have been helped by the West Indies’ shambolic performance.
“The fact is that we all have played too well. Someone or other has put his hand up and we have prevailed,” he added.
Equally agitated by these suggestions was new coach Duncan Fletcher, who was rather agitated when asked about the occasional slip-ups on the field.
“These guys are players. They are not machines. There would be one or two slip-ups,” he said.
“I don’t think it (the West Indies) is a bad side. It’s an international side. It has players who have performed well in the past,” rebutted Fletcher, on whether a tougher test awaits India when they tour England next month.
Fletcher was asked if he was surprised by the level of maturity the young Indians are exhibiting on and off the field.
“It’s a reflection on the pool of talent India currently have. It’s a reflection on India’s standard of cricket. IPL must have done some good. This pool of talent is a massive advantage to the Indians,” he replied.
During the second one- dayer, India needed 83 from 15 overs and Raina promoted himself up the order, upped the scoring rate, easing the pressure on his partner Virat Kohli and on his team.
Raina said it was part of plan laid out by Fletcher.
“Actually it was the coach’s idea. He felt that a right-left combination in the middle would work to India’s advantage primarily because West Indies had two leg break bowlers.”
Raina, who had a disastrous first stint as a captain, losing his matches against Zimbabwe last year, is setting the score right.
“This side has far more experience than the side which played in Zimbabwe. We have experienced bowlers in Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra and medium-fast bowlers Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel have bowled very well in difficult conditions,” he said.
The day also brought happy tidings for Praveen Kumar, who has been asked to stay back in the Caribbean by the Indian selectors to strengthen the team for Tests, now that both Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth have been reported unfit.
Abhimanyu Mithun of Karnataka is also being flown in from India.
“He’s (Praveen) very happy to be part of the Test squad,” rounded up Raina, speaking up for the man who is now closer to Test debut than ever.
India’s pace bowling stock in the Tests in the Caribbean would be handled by Praveen, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun.