West Indies v India, 3rd Test, St Kitts June 21, 2006

Windies worried over likely Bravo absence

Greg Chappell examines the pitch which might not have much in it for the faster bowlers © Getty Images

The weather in these parts initially threatened to ruin parts of the Test match, the first ever at Warner Park; then came the ultimatum from the West Indies Players Association that threatened to ruin the Test match completely. Either rain or a strike may prevent the game from starting tomorrow. The latter looks highly unlikely; about the former, nobody can tell.

As far as Brian Lara was concerned, "a Test match was carded for June 22 and we're preparing ourselves for it". He refused to divulge too many details but pretty much said that the match was on. Was there a sense of uneasiness among the players? "Not really, I think it's been done at the office level," he stated. "I feel the guys are very buoyant and they're looking forward to the Test match. I don't sense anyone agitated by the situation. I'm sure that the board has great respect for their players and show that at some point of time in the near future."

With that out of the way, Lara had to worry about the nature of his squad, one where no specialist spinner featured. Then there was a pitch that might not have much in it for the faster bowlers. Then again, there was a worry over Dwayne Bravo, who missed the practice session today because of viral fever. Suffice to say, he has enough on his plate.

India must be feeling very much at home. The break has refreshed them and all injury concerns, including ones of freakish nature, are out of the way. The transformation of the pitch from a light-green carpet to a brownish mat may tempt them to play two spinners. Harbhajan Singh admitted that his "hands were itching for a bowl" in the final stages of the first two Tests; they might need treatment if he misses out here.

India will do well to heed Lara's thoughts on Harbhajan. "If he'd played in Antigua, on the last day, or even St Lucia, he would definitely have been a handful compared to Sehwag. It's fortunate for us that it didn't happen ... We expected Harbhajan to be playing in the first Test so it will not be a surprise if he comes in tomorrow. We won't be panicking, we've played against him in the past. If he's included we might see a more potent Indian attack, but again it's left to them."

The nature of the track, likely to take turn later on, may prompt West Indies to include Marlon Samuels to complement Chris Gayle in the spin department. The rest may depend on the Bravo situation, one that could have a large bearing on the result of the game. "We seem to be putting ourselves under pressure when India get big totals," said Lara. "But we were able to hold out. You can expect the guys to perform better in this game. Our backs are against the wall and I wouldn't say we got away. I thought we showed a lot of character and if the tables can turn in our favour, things can get beneficial for us."


India (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Wasim Jaffer, 3 VVS Laxman, 4 Rahul Dravid (capt), 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Mohammad Kaif, 7 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Anil Kumble, 10 Sreesanth, 11 Munaf Patel.

West Indies (probable) 1 Daren Ganga, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Brian Lara, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Marlon Samuels, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Ian Bradshaw, 10 Corey Collymore, 11 Pedro Collins.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo