A depleted Indian cricket team, sans senior players Sachin Tendulkar and regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, arrived in West Indies for a limited overs series against the West Indies, starting on Saturday.
Smartly dressed in a tee and trousers, the Indian players landed at around 20.30 Hrs (local time) yesterday at the Piarco International Airport here and were received by officials of Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) and sponsors Digicel.
The Suresh Raina-led Indian side looked tired and exhausted after their long flight from Mumbai via London and Barbados.
Stand-in skipper Raina’s eyes were blood-shot for lack of sleep and a few team members looked dishevelled from the exertions of a long, trans-Atlantic flight.
Even though he looked tired and sleepless, Raina exuded confidence that his young team will do whatever it takes to win the lone Twenty game and the five-match ODI series against the Caribbeans.
“It’s a young side. The players want to do well for the country and themselves. They are extremely motivated,” said Raina after arriving here last evening.
Vice-captain Harbhajan Singh too opined that the starless Indian team would not be short of motivation in the upcoming series, irrespective of their relentless cricket schedule.
“These are young boys who are looking to build a career for itself. I don’t think tiredness or fatigue would be a factor,” said the off-spinner.
Team manager Amitabh Chowdhary said that irrespective of the long flight, the side would attend its’ practice sessions as scheduled.
India will play a Twenty20 match in Trinidad (June 4) and five ODIs on June 6 (Trinidad), June 8 (Trinidad), June 11 (Antigua), June 13 (Antigua) and June 16 (Jamaica).
The one-day series would be followed by a three-match Test-rubber in Jamaica (June 20-June 24), Barbados (June 28-Jul 2) and Dominica (Jul 6-Jul 10).
The tickets for the one-off T20 match between India and West Indies has already been sold out and the ticket sales for the first two ODIs are also going on at a brisk pace.
Interestingly, the hectic response for the matches is a welcome surprise as both the sides are bereft of star value.
The Indian squad for the ODIs and the lone Twenty20 is without nine players who were part of the World Cup winning team under Dhoni.
The players missing out include the rested trio of Dhoni, Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, the injured troika of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Ashish Nehra and an unwell Yuvraj Singh.
S Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla have been dropped.
Dhoni and Zaheer will, however, join the team for the Test matches along with V V S Laxman, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Rahul Dravid, and Sreesanth.
The Caribbeans, meanwhile, are without explosive Chris Gayle and pace duo of Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach.
When India last toured the Caribbean Islands in 2006 under Rahul Dravid, the side scripted history by beating the home team (1-0 in a four match rubber) in a Test series for the first time in 35 years.
However, the team will certainly look to change the 1-4 thrashing it got in the five-match ODI series then.