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“Now, you think of our spinners when you think of West Indies”
West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson has announced that the spinners have to take full advantage of the spin-friendly conditions in India if the national team are to stand any chance of winning the upcoming two-Test series.
Gibson noted that that West Indies have evolved from a “pace-pronged attack” to a spin dominant one.
“We’ve evolved from that pace-pronged attack from the 80s and 90s,” Gibson said. “Our home conditions favour spinners. These pitches are why Sunil Narine, Shane Shillingford, Veerasammy Permaul and Nikita Miller do so well regionally. They are tailored for spin. Now, you think of our spinners when you think of West Indies.”
However, Gibson noted that the pace trio of Sheldon Cotterrell, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel would all play a crucial role as well.
When asked about the logic behind dropping veteran pace bowler Ravi Rampaul and unorthodox spinner Sunil Narine, Gibson said: “Ravi’s just coming off injury so the selectors wanted to give him time to recover. Sunil has done well but Shillingford has been excellent in Tests. Narine has played a lot of cricket and we don’t want to burden players too early with too much responsibility. I know he will bounce back into the Test team and copy his limited-overs form very soon.”
He also revealed that the national team have not only been preparing for their tour of India, but for their trip to New Zealand at the end of November as well.
“This India series wasn’t ideally timed as we were busy prepping for New Zealand,” he said. “We’ve been playing a lot of cricket all over the world in all formats but Test matches is what we’re missing. We have a good team and a nice blend of youngsters and experience now and we must prepare as best we can on these turf pitches in India. We have a good idea about the pitches but must be very mindful still.”
West Indies captain Darren Sammy noted that his side would be harder to beat this time round as numerous players have experience playing in India due to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“Last Test series here, it was tough,” Sammy said. “We had a lot of youngsters and we were inexperienced. Now, we have six consecutive Test wins (against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) under our belts and our limited-overs players are some of the best in the ODI and T20 formats. We are a much improved team from the last visit to India.”
Sammy also called on players like Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels to use their IPL experience to dominate the Indians.
“Our bowlers are up to the mark and ready for the challenge,” Sammy added. “[Sheldon] Cotterrell is a great find, and with players such as Kemar Roach and spinners like Shane [Shillingford] and Veerasammy Permaul more mature now, I think we’re ready. Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell also gave good accounts [of themselves] with the A team recently, so I think we will adapt well to the pitches and conditions.”
Sammy also revealed that Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th and final Test in his hometown of Mumbai will be a special match for Shivnarine Chanderpaul as well as he will be representing the West Indies in his 150th Test match.
“He’s our talisman in the middle and there’s a reason why some refer to Shiv as ‘The Wall’,” Sammy said. “His batting will be crucial for us in this series. We are counting on him a lot.”
Speaking about Tendulkar, Sammy stated that the plan was to restrict the ‘Little Master’ and get him out cheaply in both Test matches.
“We aren’t giving Sachin a freebie or a hundred but we will be giving him a guard of honour when he walks out to the pitch because he has earned that respect,” Sammy said. “He has been a great ambassador for the game and it’s only fitting. His career is distinguished and it’s testament to him as a professional and his character as a person.
“But that’s just one player. We cannot focus on Sachin alone. We have MS Dhoni, (Shikhar) Dhawan and Virat Kohli who are big run-getters. We’ll have to focus on the entire team but we have goals set that we’re looking to achieve and it will be an exciting competition.”