Rampant Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli aim to repeat their act

“Just natural talent and flair won’t do,” Nick Compton had told The Hindu shortly after the West Indies’ tour of India commenced. “Without technique to take on world class opposition, you are bound to be exposed,” the great Denis Compton’s grandson said, talking of the travails waiting to rain down on the visitors.

Left out of the ongoing Ashes tour, the younger Compton was on a visit to Balavikasa in Warangal, near Hyderabad, as brand ambassador for FRANKwater, a Bristol-based charity.

His English team-mates are all at sea against the Australians down under, but the common traits attributed to Caribbean cricket like ‘cavalier and commanding,’ now seem to belong to a bygone era.

Beleaguered islanders

With batting buccaneers/game changers Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard out of action, the picture presented by the beleaguered islanders looks an even paler shadow of its past prowess in the run-up to the second match of the ODI series against India at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA cricket stadium on Sunday.

On the contest’s eve, the combatants chose to skip pre-match media conferences and practice sessions, even with the venue all awash in green and quite welcoming. Supersoppers, so integral now to cricket’s scenery, scoured the outfield for whatever traces of moisture remained in the wake of cyclone Helen, on the charge even until Friday night.

The sun’s glow was all-enveloping on Saturday morning as the skies cleared, but like in the past, could this be just a breather till heaven’s artillery recharges?

Do the tourists have the wherewithal to stop the likes of a rampaging Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli? Or can they prevent an encore of M.S. Dhoni’s 123-ball 148 at this very venue, which well and truly launched the relentless run-getter in 2005? Both don’t look very likely on this shirtfront, so devastating to a bowler’s soul. Prospects of another one-sided duel don’t seem to deter the city’s curious cricket buffs though as they circle the stadium, vainly hoping for a glimpse of their heroes.

Time was when rock group Rare Earth’s wise-crack seemed tailor-made for cricket’s hedonists: ‘I like what I do and I do what I like’. The menace of a Michael Holding or the swagger of a Viv Richards was enough to browbeat almost any opposition.

Unenviable task

The wealth of wisdom these sages of the sport have to offer finds little reflection in the present set of their successors. To breathe belief into a side short on spirit, to motivate men on a sinking ship sure seem unenviable task Dwayne Bravo is saddled with, challenges few captains can measure upto.

If the heights scaled mean big peaks, these surely are trying times of turmoil in the trough. Or are these West Indians illustrations of Arnold Toynbee’s cyclical theory of history, of a slump before a surge or of a hitherto all-conquering cricketing empire, now in decline? Will their fortunes be saved or sealed in the City of Destiny? Too many questions for a team that for too long was rarely in doubt!

The teams (from):

West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Narsingh Deonarine, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Veerasammy Permaul, Kieran Powell, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons.

India: M.S. Dhoni (captain/wk), Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Vinay Kumar, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Mohit Sharma, Jaidev Unadkat, Amit Mishra, Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammed Shami.

Umpires: Vineet Kulkarni, Rod Tucker. Third umpire: Anil Chowdary. Match referee: David Boon.

Match starts at 1.30 p.m.

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