Vol. 5 Num 990 Wed. March 14, 2007  

ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007
India return 'home'

India return to their happy hunting ground hoping to solve their problems when they open their World Cup campaign against Bangladesh at the Queen's Park Oval here on Saturday.

Three of India's four wins in 42 Tests in the Caribbean have come at the Oval, including the famous one in 1976 when they chased a then record 403 to romp home by seven wickets.

India also clinched their only one-day series in the West Indies at this venue in 2002 under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy when they triumphed 2-1 against Carl Hooper's team.

They have also never been short of crowd support at this venue because of a large number of people of Indian origin.

Rahul Dravid's Indians looked impressive in winning both of their World Cup warm-up matches against the Netherlands and the hosts, but have yet to solve their batting problems ahead of the main competition.

Virender Sehwag's form is a major cause of concern as the hard-hitting opener has scored just one half-century in his last 13 one-dayers.

He also failed to regain from in practice games, scoring 28 against the Netherlands and a duck against the West Indies.

Dravid said he was confident Sehwag would soon return to his big-scoring ways.

"He (Sehwag) missed out on warm-up games and we would like him to get more runs," the Indian skipper had said after the practice matches.

"He's a player who has done well here in the past. He will have a big role to play here in the tournament and hopefully he will fire and be a dangerous batsman."

Sehwag, the only Indian with a triple-century in Tests, has so far scored 4,833 runs in 167 one-day internationals with seven hundreds.

India are in Group A with former champions Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and first-timers Bermuda, with the top two sides advancing to the next Super Eight stage.

Dravid said that finding a right pair of openers would not be a major problem as his team had plenty of options.

"We have the option of four guys who can open the batting -- Sourav Ganguly, Sehwag, Robin Uthappa and Sachin Tendulkar. They have all opened the batting, and some have done it longer than others," said Dravid.

"We have the options. We just have to see who is in form, who is playing well, and what the pitches are like before we decide what is the best combination for the side."

Most of the pitches in the Caribbean have been re-laid for the event, but the Indian captain said only the performance would matter in the end.

"It's going to be same for both the sides and it will come down to the team that perform better on the day, and the team which do this will win," said Dravid.

"We do not talk about pitches too much in our team meetings because what we are focussing on is the performance. We are confident that we have the team that can perform on any type of pitch."