Fitness worries for Dhoni as key bowlers struggle to overcome injuries

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has concerns about the fitness of his team's bowling department as they prepare for the opening Test against West Indies at Sabina Park, Kingston.

Injuries have been a problem for the visitors, with pacemen Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth both absent with fitness concerns.

Munaf Patel has now joined that list with an elbow injury which could keep him out of the first game of the series when it gets under way today, while the arrival of replacement bowler Abhimanyu Mithun has been held up by visa problems.

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Dhoni, who was rested for the preceding one-day series which India won 3-2, admits it is a cause for concern.

"It is important that they are fit or else it will have an impact," he said.

"It's not that you are bowling four or ten overs - you could be bowling 25 overs, whether it be a spinner or a paceman.

"You want your best bowlers to play and be at least 70 to 80 per cent fit for the longer format."

Opener Murali Vijay is also struggling with a finger injury and Dhoni is aware West Indies are not a team which will forgive weaknesses, especially on home soil.

"West Indies have a good bowling attack," he said.

"But Test cricket is all about negotiating good balls and then pushing the bowlers to bowl in your areas; score enough runs for the bowlers to defend it."

With experienced squad members Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir not on tour, Dhoni has called on the younger players to step up and play to their potential.

"It's a good exposure for youngsters," he said. "Tests are a lot tougher. It's important they play Tests and gain more experience.

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"It would help them take right decisions, help them groom themselves. You want each individual to enjoy cricket, you don't want pressure on the youngsters and look to create an atmosphere where they are loving the challenge.

"If there is no challenge, you don't know their mettle."

West Indies will be looking to bounce back from their one-day series loss, although they ended it in positive fashion with back-to-back victories.

Batsman Darren Bravo is hoping to carry that form into the opening Test and make the bouncy Sabina Park pitch work in their favour.

"We know India are susceptible to the short ball and we have the likes of Kemar Roach, I believe Fidel Edwards as well, and Ravi Rampaul," Bravo said.

"Those guys are bowling pretty fast, so they can be a bit intimidating for them as well, so hopefully we can go out there and execute and play to the best of our ability.

"We will also be taking the momentum from the ODI series. They will be stronger but still I think we will have a capable team to go out there and perform well."We would want to start on a winning note in every series, but it is a young team, we are learning as much as possible and hopefully we will get it right in the upcoming series."

Windies have recalled former captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul after he was left out of the squad for the one-day series, but Chris Gayle remains out of favour with the West Indies Cricket Board following their much-publicised dispute.

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