Dravid ponders over happy headache
Rahul Dravid has overcome many a challenge in his international career, which is ten years old today, but even he may not be good enough to alter weather patterns. India, having been thwarted at St Lucia, arrived in St Kitts a good week before the start of the third Test but they appear to have got the wet weather along with them.
The break, though, must have come as a much-needed relief. Since October 25 last year, India have played 29 one-dayers and 11 Tests with several of their core players hardly getting any sort of break. "It was a really good break to have and it gave the opportunity for unfit players to get fit," said Dravid. "It's good to switch off. Obviously as a captain I've had to think about the toss and team and the best combination. I've had a good time doing training in morning, having day to myself, spending time with team and family. It's something that should benefit us in this game."
Dravid and Co., though, will have some tricky issues to ponder over. The pitch may eventually decide the composition of the side, with the bulky Andy Atkinson monitoring preparations closely. Atkinson will also depend on the weather over the next 48 hours, but is optimistic of delivering a surface that will help the bowlers. "Hope there is some life in it for the faster bowlers but it's very tough to predict," he said. "I know as much as you do but if we can get some clear weather, we can get a reasonably hard pitch. I will trim the grass a bit more tomorrow morning. But there will be some grass, you want it to help the bowlers."
That might just give Dravid a pleasant headache. Munaf Patel has been the best fast bowler on show, Sreesanth stepped it up in the second innings at Antigua and VRV Singh has improved with every session. "They've all done a good job," said Dravid assessing their performances. "Munaf's been great throughout the series, Sree did well in the second innings of the first Test, VRV has shown a lot of promise. Irfan came back well in the last game."
With or without football fever, Dravid will ultimately have to decide if it's 2-2 or 3-1 or 3-2 or, maybe even, 4-1. "Four bowlers did the job for us in the last game," he continued, "as we could have won the game with the extra day. The ideal scenario would be to have five bowlers but Veeru [Sehwag] has been doing a fine job and adds an extra string to our bow. It's important that he maintains his consistency and keep things tight like Gayle, who does a good job for West Indies. He can be a reliever and give the main bowlers a bit of rest."
Meanwhile, Kiran More, India's chairman of selectors, has joined the Indian team in the West Indies. More has replaced VB Chandrasekhar, a South Zone representative, who was with the team during the first two Tests. His presence in the side might be in keeping with the routine of a national selector accompanying the team abroad, but has acquired significance in the light of continuing uncertainty over playing five specialist bowlers.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo