West Indies began its tour of India saluting the greatness of Sachin Tendulkar while adding that they would not be giving away any “freebies” to the host, which is currently preoccupied in planning a notable farewell for its star cricketer.
Insisting on the new slogan of the team — “One team one goal” — the West Indies captain Darren Sammy said on Wednesday that his team is here with the objective of winning.
The visitor begins the tour with a three-day match against the Uttar Pradesh Ranji side here on Thursday before the two Tests and three ODIs. The first Test begins at the Eden Gardens on November 6.
“Look Sachin is an amazing cricketer, if not the best cricketer to have played the game. What he has done over the last 24 years is a testimony to his character and person himself. We are happy to be here and will give him a good send off,” said Sammy.
“But we are here to play Test cricket and we have our own goals to achieve. It will be a lot of excitement and celebration but at the end of the day it’s a competition between West Indies and India,” he added.
The right plan
The all-rounder said that his team has the right plan in place and will give its best to realise it. Sammy said the present team is on good form having won six Tests (two each against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) on the trot.
He said his team would try to overturn the 0-2 loss in Tests it suffered visiting India last in 2011.
“We had a lot of youngsters in our team in the last Test series we played here in India. (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul was the only experienced batsman.
“Now we have guys like Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo who have matured a lot since then. We also have Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels who have been doing well. The team this time is much more experienced and balanced,” Sammy said.
Looking beyond Tendulkar’s wicket, Sammy said India had a lot of big names and his team’s strategy is about the whole team and not about any individual.
“In order to win a Test we have to take 20 wickets. Sachin is one of the 10 to get out. They also have the likes of (M.S.) Dhoni, (Shikhar) Dhawan and (Virat) Kohli who are all good batsmen. We are not only focussing on Sachin, but the entire Indian team,” Sammy said.
Looking at his own key members Sammy said, “We have good young fast bowlers like Kemar Roach, Tino Best while Sheldon Cotterrell will be the surprise package.
“We have a world class spinner in Shane Shillingford while Kirk Edwards has also done well,” he said about his bowling attack.
“In Chanderpaul, we have the most experienced player who would be playing his 150th Test match (the second Test at Mumbai), which would be the most by any West Indian. Once we play to our potential it will be a competitive series,” Sammy added.
The West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said the team had had a brief pre-tour preparation in Miami and expressed satisfaction with the team composition.
“We were kind of getting ready for New Zealand and when this tour came about we went to Miami last week for a team building. We have been playing cricket, not red ball cricket though.
“We now have the opportunity here in Kolkata and we’re looking forward to geting into the mode of red ball cricket,” Gibson said.
The Uttar Pradesh team arrived here under the captaincy of former India leg spinner Piyush Chawla. The team had a morning practice at the venue — Jadavpur University second campus complex.
Another former India player, Mohammad Kaif, said the match would give the team some good practice ahead of the intense Ranji season.
The teams (from): West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt.), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sheldon Cotterrell, Narsingh Deonarine, Kirk Edwards, Chris Gayle, Veerasammy Permaul, Kieran Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Shane Shillingford and Chadwick Walton.
Uttar Pradesh CA: Piyush Chawla (capt.), Mohammad Kaif, Mukul Dagar, Parminder Singh, Parmar Srivastava, Mohammad Amir Khan, Ekalavya Dwivedi, Imitiyaz Ahmed, Prashant Gupta, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, Ali Murtaza, Parveen Gupta, Arish Alam and Umang Sharma.
Match starts 9 a.m.