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Erratic travel schedule for Indians in WI

Dravid's men will arrive in Jamaica with hopes of a rare win but a booby trap awaits them at the very first bend down the road.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 15:59 IST

Rahul Dravid's men will arrive in Jamaica on Friday with hopes of a rare win in the West Indies but a booby trap awaits them at the very first bend down the road.

The visiting Indian team would have to travel to the extreme end of Jamaica to play a practice game against a local eleven on May 16. The distance from Kingston to Montego Bay, where the match is scheduled, is 200 km or equivalent to the distance of Haridwar from Delhi or Surat from Mumbai.

That the Jamaican squad have eight Test players in its ranks would be of little consolation to India as they would have to scoop itself out from Kingston and be marooned in Montego Bay for three days and then within 24 hours of arriving back in Kingston on Wednesday, they will take on West Indies in the first ODI.

It is a travel schedule which had been as much of a secret to the Indian players as for the scores of Indian media personnel who doubtlessly would now have to scurry to make last-minute air travel and hotel arrangements.

And it is nothing new. It's a goof-up which one has pretty much come to accept from the Indian Cricket Board. In Zimbabwe in 2005, the team was left stranded in Harare when it should have been in Bulawayo and later, in Bulawayo when it should have been knuckling down in Harare.

No wonder, Dravid in recent days has been talking of revival of players' association as the frustration of cricketers against BCCI piles up with each passing day.

Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), doubtless, have their reasons for awarding the opener to Jarrett Park in Montego Bay. It has a sizeable Indian community and it would host a few practice games during the 2007 World Cup.

Goodwill apart, Indians would still struggle to whip up interest at a venue where the outfield has cracks more than a few inches wide and a dressing room which would receive its first coat of varnish only a week before the actual match.

Dravid no doubt would exhort his men to brush aside such irritants and train sights on a rare booty. India have won only once from eight series in Caribbean since 1952 and none in the last 35 years.

But history stands no chance when weighed on the scales of rankings and form. India are third to West Indies' eighth in the ICC rankings in both Tests and one-dayers.

As for form, West Indies have won just two Tests in the last three years, one of them against Bangladesh, and lost as many as 20 of 28 matches.

In one-dayers, West Indies have won only two of 23 games since that rare triumph in Champions Trophy in 2004.

India, in contrast, have galloped past the finish line in 18 of 24 one-day matches since Dravid has been at the helm. Despite the worry in Tests, India still have three wins to two losses from nine Tests under the admirable Bangalorean.

No wonder the present ask appears too much even for somebody like the irrepressible Brian Lara. His captaincy record of 10 wins against 23 losses in 40 Tests (37-42 in 82 ODIs) is not a help, nor the fact that he turned 37 on the 2nd of this month.

Lara must hope that Jarrett Parks would do its bit in throwing Indians off their trail at the very outset.