Sreesanth and Uthappa have already made an impact, writes W.V. Raman
The experimentation by the Indian team management has resulted in making men out of boys as the younger lot has done extremely well.
The youngsters appear to have been groomed well in terms of attitude, which has enabled them to excel on the field. The likes of S. Sreesanth and Robin Uthappa have already made an impact.
However, the recently concluded series has brought about a sudden elevation in the stature of M.S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. They both have silenced their detractors by displaying restraint when required, and this ability to adapt temperamentally has made all the difference.
Yuvraj Singh probably would have realised that cricket is more enjoyable when he performs consistently. The dashing left-hander has come of age in terms of reading the game and knowing his own limitations. Yuvraj Singh now should be considered a senior cricketer as he is into his sixth season and expectations will only increase in his case. Dhoni, the other flamboyant cricketer in the side, has improved his game on either side of the stumps. That he is a merciless hitter of the ball is quite obvious and his glove-work has improved as well.
He has notched up runs almost at every number for India and that has been due to his sticking to his own game. He is similar to Sehwag in approach in that he does not deliberately try and change his game. Of course, he might restrain himself at times but the storm is sure to follow the lull.
Like the Dravid-Laxman combination, Dhoni and Yuvraj pair up well at the crease and they have tremendous faith in each other. The tour of the West Indies will provide them the opportunities to establish their credentials in Tests as well.
While Yuvraj and Dhoni have progressed well, Sehwag and Kaif are under pressure to perform. With Suresh Raina doing well and Venugopala Rao waiting in the wings, Kaif's position is in danger if his form continues to desert him. Kaif's past performances and his athleticism has saved him from getting axed but Raina has proved to be equally good on the field as well.
Kaif will hope that he gets to play in both the games, as would Sehwag, because they need just one good outing to regain touch.
Sehwag will fancy himself as he has a special penchant for the Pakistani attack and he probably would like to break the poor run against his favourite opponents.
The two sides are playing the two matches to raise funds for a good cause, but the players would not lose sight of the fact that these games have been accorded official status. These games will not only provide opportunities for youngsters like Uthappa and Sreesanth to re-establish their credentials but also for the likes of Kaif and Sehwag to revive their careers.
The Indians would look to try out Venugopala Rao who has been on the fringe for a while. A talented stroke maker, he has somehow not been able to get going in international cricket. In the event he gets a chance he will be hoping to make it count.
The Indians will be looking forward to some rest after this trip before they embark on the tour of West Indies. The administrators should try and reschedule the programme after the World Cup at least to keep the players fresh and the spectators interested. The game needs both the players and spectators' vigour in order to generate huge revenues.