Cricket loving fans in Chennai will certainly miss their ‘favourite son’ M.S. Dhoni.
There are times when you feel sorry for the West Indian team, worry about its future.
Look at the team the Caribbeans have here for the Twenty20 series. No Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell.
It’s not surprising that the West Indies, normally a powerhouse in the Twenty20 format, is 0-2 down going into the final game at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.
All four are game-changers. Lewis was part of the original squad but pulled out for personal reasons, while Russell cited fitness concerns.
Among the others, Dwayne Bravo has now bid adieu to international cricket but is sure to feature in the various cash-rich Twenty20 leagues.
And Narine, such a big factor, just doesn’t seem interested in representing the West Indies.
Asked about the absence of these cricketers, experienced wicket-keeper batsman Denesh Ramdin replied, “It is about putting food on your table. I can’t stop a player who goes. It is difficult at this point in time to build a team. Our Twenty20 players are in demand around the world.”
But then, the cricketers representing the West Indies these days are paid handsomely — they surely have the money to put on the table — compared to the Caribbean greats of the era gone by who played with great pride for a pittance.
The problem eating into the West Indian cricket is attitude, greed and arrogance of some of the bigger names.
There is this story about the West Indian board seeking a marquee cricketer for a particular international series but wanted him to play in domestic matches first.
But then, the dates clashed with that of a Twenty20 league and his response was — “Can you advance the dates of the domestic games so that I can play in them!” The Board promptly refused.
Priorities are changing. Sadly, India will not be playing a single Test on its forthcoming tour of New Zealand since the five-day matches start so early in the morning (IST) that they are not commercially viable for television.
Now you know who calls the shots. It’s all about money, not protecting the game or its soul.
No wonder, the dynamics of this commercial whirlpool have hit the Caribbean cricket hard. The side is here without an opening pair with both Gayle and Lewis absent.
And Darren Bravo, who should ideally be featuring in Test cricket, is only figuring in the shortest format.
The talented Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer are struggling to find suitable slots because of the mess at the top of the order.
There are some players with ability in West Indies cricket — paceman Oshane Thomas is incisive with terrific air speed. They too could be lured away by the big bucks.
The Indians, the series already in the bag, could give a look-in to Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem on a surface that could offer some turn.
The Indian approach for this game has been a tad casual. They arrived in batches only on Saturday, and could not squeeze in a practise session.
Perhaps, it’s the Diwali spirit and its hangover. The Indian preparation is also reflective of this West Indian side.
The teams (from):
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shahbaz Nadeem, Khaleel Ahmed, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Siddarth Kaul.
West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Fabian Allen, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Oshane Thomas, Obed McCoy, Sherfane Rutherford, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Khary Pierre.
Match starts at 7 p.m.