KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Ahead of their hotly anticipated tour of England - ICC World Cup champions India have continued their winning ways beating the West Indies.
Despite a change of coach and with a number of players missing, they wrapped up the five match One Day International series by winning the first three matches.
India welcome back skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the upcoming three Test series in the Caribbean but Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan are among the key absentees.
Their focus is already the first Test match against England which gets underway at Lord’s on July 21.
New Coach Duncan Fletcher faces the unenviable task of keeping India on course after taking over from Gary Kirsten before the West Indies tour.
Fletcher inherited a side ranked number one in Test cricket as well as being the recently crowned World champions in the 50-over game.
The ex-England coach has made a typically understated start to his reign but recently asserted his belief that India have the strength in depth to stay on top of the cricketing world for the next ‘five to ten years.’
England and South Africa are leading the charge to topple India though, and a second successive series win in England would cement Fletcher’s side at the top of the world game.
India’s seam bowlers will be vital in English conditions but injuries to Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan mean they will miss the three back-to-back Tests in the West Indies.
Zaheer, 32, has an ankle problem while 28-year-old Sreesanth is struggling with an elbow injury.
Opening batsmen Gautam Ghambir and Virender Sehwag are also missing with shoulder problems meaning the side which takes on the West Indies will have a distinctly inexperienced look.
India’s wealth of batting riches should save their blushes against the West Indies but their seam bowling has been overly reliant on Zaheer during their ascent of the world rankings..
The left-arm seamer led the way with 18 wickets at 20.33 during India's 1-0 series win in England in 2007 and he will be desperate to get fit in time to enjoy the rare chance to bowl in some seam-friendly conditions.
In the meantime Fletcher will be forced to analyse his options with Abhimanyu Mithun and Praveen Kumar added to the Test squad for the West Indies series.