Having returned shattered after the 2007 World Cup debacle in West Indies, India had a perfect opportunity to fly into the Caribbean as the triumphant one-day squad playing their first series as champions.
Such hopes were swept away after top batsmen Gautam Gambhir — who had been named captain for the limited overs leg — and Yuvraj Singh were ruled out of the tour. Gambhir’s shoulder injury, suffered during the World Cup and aggravated during his stint as the skipper of the IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders, was found to be serious while the cricket board announced that Yuvraj was pulling out hours before the side was announced, suffering from an upper respiratory tract problem that would take time to heal.
With Virender Sehwag already out of action following his shoulder surgery after his Indian Premier League stint, the depleted squad’s hopes in the lone Twenty20 match and five ODIs will depend on how much spirit the younger set of players, particularly batsmen, show in the Caribbean.
Skipper MS Dhoni and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan with Sachin Tendulkar were already rested for the first part of the campaign.
If the poor organisation in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was exposed in the way the Gambhir and Yuvraj cases were handled, there was more confusion when the national selectors named the 16-member squad on Friday for the Test series.
Board secretary N Srinivasan said in a statement that Tendulkar - who had opted out of the limited overs series - will now skip the entire tour to spend some time with his family. Tendulkar will return for the series to that country that follows the Caribbean tour and will have the opportunity to score his 100th international ton there as well.
The silver-lining was the inclusion of Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan and Bengal's Manoj Tiwary to fill the big shoes of Gambhir and Yuvraj in the ODI squad. Suresh Raina will lead in the first leg with Harbhajan Singh as his deputy. Young Tamil Nadu batsman Abhinav Mukund is a new face in the Test squad.