Can India deliver an elusive whitewash?
Match factsTuesday, November 22
Start time 0930 (0400 GMT)
Not counting two-Test flings, India have whitewashed only two series. It's a surprising statistic given how progressively difficult India have become to defeat at home. Only South Africa have beaten India in a Test at home in more than five years, yet a whitewash has hardly ever been a thought in recent times. A mix of flat tracks and slow starts has denied India absolute domination even while being kings of their castle.
In this series against West Indies, though, India overcame the slow start in Delhi and the flat track in Kolkata. They now stand on the cusp of that elusive whitewash, just like they did in 2002-03 against the same opponents, the last time India went into the last Test with the possibility of a clean sweep. India fell behind in that Eden Gardens Test back then, and Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman forced a draw on the final day. They won't want to leave the job unfinished this time.
When West Indies went to Pakistan in 1997-98, they had been whitewashed only once, that too in their first series, back in 1928. In less than 14 years since that Pakistan tour, they have added six to that tally. Times have been desperate, but West Indies have gone six years without getting whitewashed. They will need their best cricket to avoid another.
Form guide(Most recent first)
West Indies LLWDD
Watch out for…
Darren Bravo has obvious talent to match the Brian Lara mannerisms. It was well advertised that his century in Kolkata, Bravo's 12th Test, left him with an identical run aggregate and average as Lara had after 12 Tests. In his 13th, Lara scored 167 off 210 balls to set up an innings win.
As a partnership, India's openers have provided solid enough starts this series, but neither Virender Sehwag nor Gautam Gambhir has scored a century this year. They have both fought injuries: Sehwag has played five of India's 10 Tests this year, Gambhir six. They can both do with innings that make them feel good ahead of the tour of Australia.
Pitch and conditions
Wankhede usually provides fair tracks that make for exciting cricket. The red soil provides good bounce, liked by fast bowlers, spinners and shot-makers. The outfield is quick too. The Mumbai "winter" is kicking in, which merely means slightly nippy mornings and nights, and mid-30 temperatures during the day. Rain, clouds and bad light are not likely to affect the Test. This is the ground's first Test since renovation for the 2011 World Cup.
Team newsIndia have dropped Yuvraj Singh, and barring any injuries Virat Kohli should be back for his fourth Test, all against West Indies. Feeling "sluggish", MS Dhoni chose to give the pre-match training a miss, but the team management was confident he would play. Also, do India want to have a look at Varun Aaron before they go to Australia?
India (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Virat Kohli, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Ishant Sharma/Varun Aaron, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Umesh Yadav
West Indies have had an injury scare, but expect Shivnarine Chanderpaul to play despite a strained calf muscle. He did not practise on the eve of the match, though. Ravi Rampaul will have recovered from his stomach bug, and could replace Kemar Roach. The batting has been a worry, but there isn't much West Indies can do other than shuffle the order and separate the inexperienced top three.
West Indies (probable) 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Kirk Edwards, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Marlon Samuels, 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Carlton Baugh (wk), 9 Ravi Rampaul/Kemar Roach, 10 Fidel Edwards, 11 Devendra Bishoo
Stats and trivia
- Rahul Dravid needs 21 runs to become the second man to reach 13,000 Test runs. With five centuries this year, he has matched his best year, 2002.
- Sehwag needs 117 to become the 23rd batsman to reach 8000 runs. If Sehwag gets there in his next innings, he will be fourth-fastest to the mark. If he takes between two and five innings, he will be the fifth-fastest. Two more sixes, and he will become the second-highest six-hitter, behind only Adam Gilchrist. He is currently level with Chris Cairns on 87 sixes.
- Chanderpaul holds many records, but in Kolkata he reached one that will hurt him on more than one count. He is now part of 64 Test losses, more than anybody. He broke former team-mate Lara's record. Chanderpaul is not likely to get rid of this dubious distinction anytime soon: the next current player on the list is Tendulkar, who has been part of 50 defeats.
"We would like to definitely win the series 3-0, that's our target. We would like to concentrate on the process and, if we end up winning the match, it will be great for us."
VVS Laxman says the right things on the eve of the Test.
"We are monitoring the situation to see if he could make it tomorrow. Given the experienced player that he is we will take a call tomorrow."
Darren Sammy on Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who did not practise on the eve of the match.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo