G. Viswanath

Mumbai: In a clear demonstration of unanimity, the five-man selection committee, which assembled on Thursday, decided that there was not the slightest need to tinker with combination for the forthcoming five-match one-day series against the West Indies.

Without wasting time it retained the 15-member squad that drew the DLF Cup series against Pakistan 1-1 in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The team will leave for the West Indies on May 12.

When asked if "if the exercise of picking the 15 member team for the one-day series was the easiest and a straightforward affair" since last June when the committee chose a team for the Indian Oil Cup, chairman Kiran More said: "We tried several players, about 19 or 20 against Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and Pakistan and all of them did well. We believe the 15 chosen for the series against the West Indies is the best at present."

Elaborating on the troubles and solutions they found in the last six months, More said: "Some of the key bowlers like Balaji and Ashish Nehra were injured. Fortunately youngsters like Sreesanth, R.P. Singh and Munaf Patel, who were called upon to replace them, have delivered the goods. Ramesh Powar has turned out to be outstanding. It's disappointing we do not have a quality left arm spinner-allrounder. V.R.V. Singh is a good prospect. Balaji did not have a great debut match against the West Indies in Baroda, but he came back strongly subsequently.''

Reposing faith in Kaif

There was a brief discussion on the roles that tried and tested players like Dinesh Mongia, Hemang Badani and Rohit Sharma could have played when the situation demanded, but the selectors, who largely believe that Mohammad Kaif brings in `heavy content' as a steady batsman and brilliant fielder, decided to keep him as an integral part of the batting department.

"He needs the backing he deserves. His past record is good and he's one of the best fielders in the world," said More.

Another selector said that Kaif is a kind of player who saves 25 runs on the field. "His worth is as good as 75 or 100, if he takes catch for a low score of a top batsman.''

More is very optimistic of Dravid's team getting the better of the West Indies in both the one-day and Test series. "They showed tremendous character in Pakistan and generally right through the home series."

India has not won a Test series in the West Indies since 1971. But Dravid's team beat the West Indies twice in the Indian Oil Cup in Sri Lanka last year. Four years ago, the team led by Sourav Ganguly won the five match series 2-1.

No conditioning camp

PTI reports

The Indian team would not have the customary conditioning camp ahead of an overseas visit and the players would assemble here on May 10 before departing for the West Indies.

Coach Greg Chappell will return to Australia in the intervening period, a borad source said.

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