Lined up for the knockout
Sourav Ganguly said his team was confident of wrapping up the three-Test series at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, India's happiest hunting ground. "We are pretty happy with the way we have been playing for the past six months and keen on maintaining the momentum."
India lead the series 1-0 following their victory by an innings and 112 runs in the first Test in Mumbai last week. Ganguly told reporters in Chennai, "We know it's a do-or-die game for them and want to keep pressure on them."
Ganguly refused to talk of a clean sweep yet, but promised his team would play positive cricket and try to win. He is two wins short of Mohammad Azharuddin's record of 14 Test triumphs as India's captain. "Let us take one match at a time and try to win it. What matters is that we have to maintain a winning streak."
India will again rely more on their spinners than seamers, on a newly laid pitch that looks similar to the one at Mumbai. Indian slow bowlers struck it rich there, with Harbhajan Singh grabbing eight wickets in the match and Anil Kumble pocketing seven.
Carl Hooper, West Indies' captain, told his men to deliver in the crucial match to keep the series alive. Barring Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who scored a solid 54 and an unbeaten 36, West Indian batsmen could not cope with the Indian spin duo on a turning track. "We're a young team and need time to settle down", said Hooper, " but the players should share responsibility. They need to show they're maturing. They can't get away with poor performances."
Hooper conceded that the spinners would again play a decisive role at Chennai, but said, "We're confident of beating India". It appeared more optimism than conviction, as West Indies have lost their last six Tests in a row in the subcontinent. Barring a miracle in the heat, humidity, a spinners' track and Sachin Tendulkar at his most successful Test ground, that record seems likely to be extended.
India 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sanjay Bangar, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Sourav Ganguly (capt), 6 VVS Laxman, 7 Parthiv Patel (wk), 8 Anil Kumble, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Javagal Srinath, 11 Zaheer Khan.
West Indies 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Wavell Hinds, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Carl Hooper(capt), 6 Ryan Hinds, 7 Ridley Jacobs (wk), 8 Mahendra Nagamootoo, 9 Pedro Collins, 10 Mervyn Dillon, 11 Cameron Cuffy.