Virat and Co brace for battle of pace

Match Preview : 3rd Test: West Indies Vs India


It’s back to being patient for Team India here in the West Indies. It was the theme players stuck to when they spoke before the series began. Pacer Mohammed Shami, speaking two days ahead of the start of third Test, too felt patience was going to be the key when India take on West Indies here from Tuesday .

Asked about the plans the team might have come up with after the fiasco on the final day of the second Test, Shami said, “It was all about being patient in Test cricket. The more patience you show the better.“

All set to wrap up the second Test in Jamaica to go 2-0 up in the four-Test series, India were hit by a double whammy ­ rain took away more than 100 overs of play and on the final day, West Indies put up a stellar batting show to comfortably draw the Test. And while it checked India’s march towards absolute dominance in the series, it also infused some welcome competitive spirit into series.

The fact remains, though, that India have been head and shoul ders above the hosts so far and, barring the final day in Jamaica, have been in control. They will be looking to finish the job here and clinch their seventh successive series triumph over the Caribbeans. West Indies, though, will be in a better frame of mind to repel India’s advance after the heroics in the last Test.

The pitch at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium has been a batsman’s paradise. If it stays true to form then it’s difficult to see how West Indies can take 20 Indian wickets in the Test. The script then could very well follow what unfolded in Jamaica ­ West Indies bowling a restrictive line to keep Indian batsmen in check and Indian bowlers trying to break through the West Indian batting line-up.

A positive India captain Virat Kohli felt that the pitch was one where a result was very much possible. “The surface looks similar to Antigua (first Test) with an even grass covering. It should be hard enough.They didn’t have time to water it and roll it enough because of rains. But it should become hard.We’ve known this wicket to have a lot of bounce and carry where you have a chance to take five wickets on all five days,“ Kohli said on Monday.

Is opener Murali Vijay, who is back practising after missing the second Test with a thumb injury, likely to play in the third Test? Kohli admitted that this was a vexatious issue the team had to deal with. “Cricket is sometimes a very uncertain game.Injuries are not in anyone’s hand. The good thing is that all three openers (Vijay, Shikhar and Rahul) are playing well. The bad thing is that we have to choose only two. We will sit down on it later in the day.“

Virat added that the team management would also be taking a look at the bowling combination and decide on the one `most sui ted to the condition here.’ About the lessons learnt in Jamaica, Virat again struck a positive note. “We should not doubt our ability going forward.We’re good enough to take 20 wickets. The bowlers are in a good mental frame.“

Calling the Gros Islet pitch the `best in West Indies,’ home captain Jason Holder said that it was quicker that most tracks in the Caribbean. “There is a strong possibility that we may go for an extra pacer here,“ Holder said. That may see leggie Devendra Bishoo making way for either Carlos Brathwaite or young Alzarri Joseph.

The heat and humidity in Gros Islet is going to make this a sapping contest. Besides, rain and thunderstorms are forecast every day for the next few days.So, watch out for the elements.They could turn out to be a crucial factor in the game.

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