ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – West Indies will hope to level their series with India in the third and final Test starting here today, and make Windsor Park’s historic first Test a memorable one.
The venue has already hosted four One-Day Internationals but will open its doors to the game’s longer form for the first time in its history.
West Indies could make the stadium’s Test debut even more unforgettable if they can somehow find a way past MS Dhoni’s Indians who hold a 1-0 series lead following their 63-run win in Jamaica two weeks ago.
They escaped with a draw in Bridgetown four days ago after the weather intervened and West Indies will need a tremendous effort if they are to beat the world’s number one Test side.
Captain Darren Sammy said his side was aware of what was expected, and they were focussing on winning the encounter.
“We need to win. We will look at all our options and come up with the combinations to go out and fight to win the Test match. It will be an all out effort from everyone in the team … a total team effort. From one to 11, everyone has to do the job for the team,” Sammy stressed to reporters yesterday.
“Looking at the pitch, you can see there is some moisture and that should help the faster bowlers early on. Normally from playing here, it turns later on in the match, so both the pacers and spinners can expect some help.”
He added: “I’m excited, the whole team is excited. Dominica is like a home away from home for me. I played here quite a few times for St Lucia as well as the Windward Islands and I always get a lot of support here from the lovely people of this country. They love cricket and I know they will give us their full backing.
“I know the people will come and ‘lively up’ the place. This is the first Test match for the country and it promises to be a wonderful occasion as the cricket played here will be seen worldwide and it will be great exposure for the nation as well. It would be great to come out on the winning side at the end of the Test.”
While West Indies have been lifted by spirited bowling efforts, they have been repeatedly let down by their batting for the entire series.
Their bowlers have restricted India to under 300 in every innings to date but the Windies batters have failed to come good.
In the last Test at Kensington Oval, they prised out India for 201 in their first innings but then could only muster a paltry 190 in response.
They will have to do without the services of the experienced Ramnaresh Sarwan who has been dropped after scoring 29 runs from four innings in the series.
Veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul has also been struggling for form and Sammy said he was hoping the Guyanese got among the runs.
“Shiv has been with us for a long time. It happens rarely when Shiv hasn’t responded if the team is in crisis. We are hoping he will come good here,” Sammy noted.
He was quick to praise the bowlers, especially the resurgent fast bowling duo of Fidel Edwards Ravi Rampaul who have managed to keep India’s batting machine quiet for the most part.
“It is very good to see the way Fidel has made a comeback. He got eight in the last match and in his career he has taken nine ‘five-fors’, so he’s a wicket-taker and he has fitted in very well,” Sammy said.
“Ravi has done well for us all season and he’s full of confidence. He has been the go-to man with the new ball and has always given us the early wickets to set the opposition back. He’s a very good team player and I’m sure he will get more success here.”
India will, meanwhile, look to their outstanding new-ball pair of Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar who have caused the Windies batsmen horrors.
While combative off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been low-keyed, Sharma has taken 16 wickets and Kumar, eight, to do most of the damage.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh Jr, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), VVS Laxman, Subramaniam Badrinath, Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma and Murali Vijay.