Tuesday, May 31, 2011

India will Win in West Indies: Suresh Raina Captain of India

Mumbai: Third-choice captain Suresh Raina believes India can beat West Indies in the Caribbean even without seven top players, including Sachin Tendulkar and fast bowler Zaheer Khan.

The World Cup champion will open its nine-match tour on Saturday in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, with a one-off Twenty20.

Even without a host of great players, Raina said he liked the look of his squad for the Twenty20 and five One-Day Internationals.

"It is a great honor to lead a young side," he said on the eve of the team's departure on Tuesday. "I am happy that most members have done well in first-class cricket and the IPL. We hope to live up to expectations and to execute our plans. It is very important that we stay focused and disciplined.

"We have always excelled under pressure and it is a very good opportunity for youngsters. Players like Rohit (Sharma) and Virat (Kohli) are capable of doing well."

Tendulkar was granted a rest from the entire trip to recharge for the following tour of England. Khan will miss the limited-overs matches to rest for the three tests.

Raina, who led a second-string India during limited-overs matches in Zimbabwe last year, was handed the captaincy again when regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was rested and his deputy, Gautam Gambhir, the original choice for captain, was ruled out due to an injury.

Gambhir and other top-order batsman Virender Sehwag have suffered shoulder injuries, pace bowler Ashish Nehra was nursing a finger injury sustained during the World Cup, while allrounder Yuvraj Singh was out with a lung infection.

Tendulkar, Khan, Dhoni, Gambhir, Sehwag, Nehra and Yuvraj will miss the limited-overs games.

Dhoni will return to lead the side for the test series, but India will remain without Tendulkar, Gambhir and Yuvraj.

The fluent left-handed Raina, who was in the thick of action during the recent IPL playing for the eventual champion Chennai Super Kings, was hoping his experience of the Caribbean will help achieve the desired results.

"I have been to the West Indies in 2006 and during the 2007 World Cup," Raina said. "I have learnt a lot from previous captains Dhoni, (Anil) Kumble and (Rahul) Dravid and hope to put all my experience to good use."

Raina said he respected West Indies even though India has won their last two one-day series.

"They have plenty of good allrounders like (Kieron) Pollard and (Dwayne) Bravo but we have a balanced side and a good bunch of youngsters. It is all about gelling well and moving forward," he said.

Raina added it was important to strike a rapport with new coach Duncan Fletcher, who helped pick the one-day and test squads last week.

"I am well aware of responsibilities that we (team staff) have been given," Fletcher said. "I am amazed at the amount of talent in India and there is a very good chance of maintaining our success."

Fletcher said winning in England and Australia would be the biggest challenges, but their focus for now was on West Indies.

"We would like to beat England in England and Australia in Australia. But the first job is the tour of West Indies," Fletcher said.

"It's very important not to look too far down the road. India have a plan to stay at the top. The young players have the potential and this tour will show the depth of talent."

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