Sachin Tendulkar will be looking to bring up his 100th international ton in the Delhi Test against the West Indies. (Getty Images)
New Delhi: If the performance of West Indies on overseas tours is anything to go by, then statistics would indicate that they have been struggling to get their act together for quite a while now.
On paper, India putting it across the West Indies in the Test series commencing on Sunday should be a mere formality, however Darren Sammy’s team did manage to finish on top in their recently concluded series in Bangladesh, which should ideally provide them with the right frame of mind, going into the first of three Tests at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla.
Apart from the fact that all and sundry will be awaiting the historic occasion of Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international ton, the Kotla - which has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Indian spinners of late - will witness India locking horns with the opposition without Harbhajan Singh or Anil Kumble in their ranks, which in itself makes history of sorts.
With a total of 1025 Test wickets between them, the void left by the two cannot exactly be expected to be filled by Ravichandran Ashwin and co. Without being disrespectful to the new crop of spinners who are going to be in charge of India's fortunes, the Windies on their part will surely be aware of the fact that they are in with a chance to cause some mayhem at the cost of the hosts.
It might have gone unnoticed, but man for man the West Indies are actually not that badly off in the upcoming Test series, at least as far as bowling is concerned.
Considering India's not so flattering reputation against the rising ball, the pace of Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach could turn out to be the surprise package, and more so if the red cherry is consistently directed at the batsmen's ribs.
Also, Devendra Bishoo who helped himself to a five wicket haul against Bangladesh during his team's emphatic win in Mirpur, will be looking to take on MS Dhoni’s men in their backyard, even though spin has very rarely proved to be the undoing of Indian batsmen.
However, without a doubt, it's the batting department where the Indians are expected to 'score' heavily over the visitors. A line-up which boasts of a solid top order in Virender Sehwag, his Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, further bolstered by a middle order which comprises of Tendulkar, the 'Very Very Special' Laxman and maybe not to ‘special’ Yuvraj Singh, who is desperate to make a mark for himself in the longer version of the game.
However, Indies - who continue to be without Chris Gayle - will be relying a bit too heavily for their liking on old horses Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels.
As far as India’s bowling goes, all eyes will be on rookie pacers, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav with an eye also on the speed gun, as to what registers on it when the two send down ‘canons’.
Where India might prove to be suspect will be the left-arm spin of Pragyan Ojha who is on a comeback trail in the five-day format, and the legspinner Rahul Sharma, who is still very much an unknown quantity on the international stage.
However, it would not be an over exaggeration of facts to state that the Indians don’t know how to lose at home, and that the writing seems to be very much on the wall for the Sammy led outfit, even though there might be a few chinks in Team India’s armour this time around.