Honeymoon capital set for fun

The 3rd tie between India and WI will be first one-dayer to be played at St Kitts, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 11:34 IST

The cricket caravan has left the shores of Kingston and moved to what some call the honeymoon capital of the world, St Kitts. The major island in the Federation of Saint Kitts of Nevis is also the capital of what is apparently the smallest nation in the western hemisphere and part of the Leeward Islands, one of the six teams in the Caribbean first-class competition.

As far as heritage is concerned, this place is not known for hosting matches. The third ODI between India and the West Indies on Tuesday will be the first ODI to be played here. And opener Runako Morton is the lone current WI player with roots in this country, while former world 100m champion Kim Collins is probably the most recognisable face to have represented it in recent times.

With an eye on next year's World Cup, this place has been added to the list of venues available across these islands which constitute West Indies cricket, and courtesy a match that separated the teams by one run, the Warner Park Stadium is set to host a big match first up.

It is perhaps in the interest of cricket in the West Indies and the importance of cricket in general that the series is alive, and as people in these parts would like to believe, kicking too. Given the way the teams had performed over the last few years, it was not imprudent to dub India favourites and they almost lived up to that billing despite a catastrophic show with the bat in the second match.

The upheavals in the administrative and cricketing set-up of the game in India notwithstanding, the brand value of Team India has only rocketed to a new high over the last one year and a lot of it has perhaps had a lot to do with results in one-day cricket. It's important from this point of view that Chappell's team doesn't slip in this instant variety of the game, keeping in mind the fact that it has not done much to be proud of in the longer version.

It's not going to be easy as what many thought it would be after the first half of the second match in Kingston. There was no dispute that the West Indies possess a decent amount of talent and teams which keep failing in spite of that need a dramatic win to start believing in themselves. England's Ashes triumph was inspired largely by one such victory in the second Test and Brian Lara's team too has snatched a similar lifeline.

Not much is known about the Warner Park pitch, but there are whispers that it might be quicker than the one at Sabina Park. This should excite the teams because both believe they have the pace to unsettle the opposition although India have the spin option to rely on too. As for batting, the West Indies are in no way inferior than the Indians.

With an eye on overcoming the problem of the fifth bowler, Indians have deviated from the ploy of making do with part-timers. This means they are expecting the wicketkeeper and at least one of the frontline bowlers to contribute the way a batsman does. Given the resources at disposal, it's a bold move. But for it to click, contribution from the top order has to be substantial.

Within India's run of success of late lies the fact that the batting has been overtly reliant on Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. What these players have done individually in the period under consideration is creditable to say the least, but is that enough for a team looking at maximising options?Time will tell.

First Published: May 23, 2006 02:20 IST