Playing for pride
This one promises to be special. West Indies v India will take a backseat for a while as Trinidad gears up to toast one of its most famous sons. As he walks out to bat at the Queen's Park Oval, in front of his adoring home crowd, Brian Lara may feel a gush of emotion. It's probably the last time he will wear his maroon colours there. Don't miss it for anything.
"Sunday will be an emotional experience," said Lara while looking ahead to the clash. "It will be a momentous occasion. It's Trinidad & Tobago and the ovation and the love is always there. I know every blade of grass here at the Queen's Park Oval. I always try my hardest to do something special."
He's already played a special innings; but the Lara lightning often strikes twice. "Winning the match on Sunday is very important. We may rest a few key players and not have a full-strength side and if we can still win it, it will show we have distanced ourselves from India." Despite wrapping up the series, Lara hasn't allowed the party to start yet. "We need to realise the importance of Sunday. And we have a lot of cricket coming up. There's the ICC Champions Trophy and there's a long, hard tour of Pakistan."
As Lara and his men relaxed on match eve, India opted for a short practice stint. Yuvraj Singh, who had missed the third game because of a back spasm, and Ajit Agarkar, who was hit on the chin yesterday, didn't take part and were unlikely to take the field tomorrow. Robin Uthappa, the young opening batsman from Karnataka, would probably get his first game of the series while Venugopal Rao and Rudra Pratap Singh could also be included.
Rahul Dravid also hinted that Virender Sehwag could be demoted down the order. India's progress has often been stalled in the middle-overs, with Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels bowling restrictive lengths, and Sehwag's ability to hit over the top would come in handy.
Sewnarine Chattergoon and Dave Mohammed, the left-arm spinner, were the new faces that West Indies were likely to try out. But they will require to make one heck of a contribution if they harbour hopes of diverting the attention, all of which will be reserved for the genius from Santa Cruz.
Teams (probable) India 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Rahul Dravid (capt), 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Mohammad Kaif, 5 Venugopal Rao, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 8 Ramesh Powar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Sreesanth, 11 Rudra Pratap Singh
West Indies 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Sewnarine Chattergoon, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Brian Lara (capt), 5 Wavell Hinds, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Dwayne Smith, 8 Denesh Ramdin, 9 Ian Bradshaw, 10 Jerome Taylor, 11 Dave Mohammed
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo