Cricket fever grips Kochi, all eyes on rain gods

Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014,19:02 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Team India, which is all set to prepare for the ICC World Cup 2015 and the last home series prior to it, will take on West Indies in the first One-Day-International (ODI) at the Jawharlal Nehru International Stadium here tomorrow.
Though all preparations were in the final stages, the cloudy atmosphere and the prediction by the weather office of the possibility for heavy rain in the next couple of days are putting cricket fans in a bit of anxiety as  memory of the organisers having had to cancel the ODI between Australia and India in 2010 due to heavy rain without a ball being bowled is still fresh in the minds..
Though the city was gripped by cricket fever and the organisers had made elaborate arrangements to provide all facilities to the cricket buffs, who have poured into the city, the organisers as well as cricket fans are still hoping rain would not play spoilsport.
This is the second time in one year the home team is taking on the visitors as both teams had clashed the first ODI of the 2013 at this same venue on November 13 last year in which India had bowled out the Caribbeans by six wickets with 88 balls remaining thanks to the scintillating bowling by R Ashwin, who scalped four wickets awarding just 42 runs.
However, the West Indies team, who learned lessons from their earlier setbacks, would certainly be on defensive stand and expecting to put up a spirited fight against Indians.
Former West Indies Captain RichieRichardson, who is the team manger, expressed confidence this time his boys would win. ‘It is not like last time and the results will be different,’ he said to a query from reporters.
However, the Indian team, which is going to take on the West Indies in the backdrop of a clean sweep against the England recently, is in good form and it was expected to repeat the same performance against their rival which they had did at the same venue last year.
Of course the absence of their ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who was instrumental in winning the game last year with claiming four wickets,  would certainly affect the team slightly.
However, Kuldeep Yadav who is coming in place of Ashwin, is expected to fill the gap and rise upto the expectations.
Since this is the first time the team members are doing without much practice as they were engaged in Champion League and T20, it might have  little trouble.
But superb form of skipper Dhoni and Rahane are expected fill the gap with their sparking batting.
As this was the last home series for Team India before the ICC World Cup 2015, it would be an acid test for each and every team member to retain place in the Indian squad as none of them could maintain consistency in any matches played recently.   Ravindra Jadeja, who performed well in his previous matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, was expecting to take his work to this match as well.
It was expected Shikhar Dhawan will open the batting with Ajinkya Rahane while Skipper Dhoni and the most reliable Raina, Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu would find themselves in the middle order action.
Regarding the bowling side, Mishra would start proceedings in the absence of Ashwin  and the home side would take the services of fast bowlers like Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
On visitors side, they are missing their opener Chris Gale who is resting due to injury and it was expected that Lendl Simons will start the proceedings.
The batting line-up would consist of Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin while Suleman Benn would take the charge of bowling as the service of Sunil Narine, who had been barred from playing the ChampionsLeague T20 final for a suspect illegal bowling action, would not be available for the West Indies this time.
Jason Holder, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor would also handle the bowling side.   Since Member BCCI Pitches Committee Tapos Chatterjee, who inspected the wicket, already said the wicket was very good and help both bowlers and batesmen, cricker fans can expected to treat themselves to a huge run-wicket feast.
This is the 10th ODI that was being conducted at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium considered to be lucky venue for the Indian side as they had won six matches while one was washed out.
With huge support from the home crowd and the ground advantage, it was expected the Indian team would script history once again in this stadium.  Probable squads: India:MS Dhoni (c&wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Murali Vijay. West Indies:Dwayne Bravo (c), Leon Johnson, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jermaine Blackwood, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Jason Holder, Suleiman Benn, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor.