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Ashwin, Yadav to debut; start of a new era for India

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni says series against West Indies is beginning of Team India's process to get back to the top of the world

Even as the focus is principally on Sachin Tendulkar's imminent 100th international century against West Indies in the first of the three Tests at the Feroz Shah Kotla here starting Sunday, it's also the beginning of a new era in Indian cricket.


India skipper MS Dhoni at practice on the eve of the first Test against
West Indies in Delhi on Saturday.
Pic/AFP


This is the first time in a home Test, since the 2000-01 series against Zimbabwe, that India will be without the services of either spinners Anil Kumble (retired) or Harbhajan Singh (dropped). The hosts will be fielding a new-look bowling attack that comprises debutants R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the young bowlers were ready for Test cricket.

"The bowlers, who will be selected, have already been exposed to international cricket because they have played in ODIs. I don't think they will really get excited. A bit of Indian Premier League (IPL) has also helped them. I hope that they will do the job for the team," he said. With next month's Australia tour looming large, Dhoni acknowledged that the Test series against West Indies marks the start of the process to regain the No 1 ranking.

"We don't have to bother too much about the rankings. We just have to do well to get back to the top. It is the process to get back to the top spot that we should think about. This series is just the start of the process," said Dhoni. Asked about the team's plans to celebrate Tendulkar's 100th international century, Dhoni said: "It is a milestone that Sachin will get, if not in this match, then in the next. It is bound to happen. So rather than discussing too much about the milestone, the team has decided that let him achieve it and then, we would celebrate it."

Meanwhile, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy wants his team to make it tough for Tendulkar to achieve his milestone. "Sachin is a great player. But, we have not come here to play names. We will execute our plans against him. As much as we admire Sachin as a great player, we will try to make life difficult for him," he said.

India's likely playing XI:
Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin (debutant), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav (debutant)

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