West Indies v India, 4th Test, Jamaica June 29, 2006

All to play for at Kingston

Will the pitch favour the fast bowlers - as it usually does in Jamaica - or will the spinners have the final say? © Getty Images

As Rahul Dravid walked into the Sabina Park on the eve of the final Test, he might have been accompanied by a sense of déjà vu. Four years back, India came to Jamaica with all to play for - the series stood at 1-1 then - and Sourav Ganguly's men had a golden chance to wrap up the series. It wasn't to be; India botched up the game and, having lead 1-0 after Trinidad, ended up losing the series 1-2.

Pitch map

The Sabina Park has traditionally produced results - only 13 draws in 41 previous Tests. Danish Kaneria led Pakistan's romp last year; two years back Steve Harmison was simply unstoppable. Charlie, the goundsman, guaranteed that there will be bounce but neither Brian Lara nor Rahul Dravid thought so. Dravid felt it was a "slow wicket", with the ball likely to "stop on the batsmen initially". Lara felt it will spin. If it does, West Indies could be in trouble. Firstly they'll have to contend with Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, then they need to worry about not having any specialist spinner of their own. India have been thwarted all series but this may be their best chance to capitalise on home disadvantage.

Clear weather finally?

A fourth successive draw looks quite unlikely. Chances of rains look remote and even if it does Sabina Park has enough drainage ammunition to soak it all up. "As we saw in the one-day series, the rain doesn't make too much of a difference because of the good drainage facilities," said Dravid. "While playing on such slow wickets it's important to get the full 450 overs. It can give both teams a chance to produce a result."

India's final-Test blues

India will remember the Tests at Karachi and Mumbai earlier this year. They'd done all they could to draw the first two games in Pakistan, after being behind in the early stages, yet they blew it all in a couple of sessions and surrendered meekly. It was a similar situation in Mumbai when England levelled the series.

"I said right in the beginning of the series that we've got to have to maintain our consistency throughout," Dravid continued. "We've come to the end of the series and the result is still 0-0. Both teams can win the series and like I said it's an exciting possibility. All the guys in the squad see it as an opportunity to do something special, make a difference and to be the sort of players who can stand up and be counted when it matters. I don't think I need to motivate the boys much for this game. They seem to be really keyed up to finish off the series well. We've gained a lot from this series but it's important to finish it well."

Similar formula

After all the speculation about West Indies' squad, they've decided to go with the same 13 as in St Kitts. Corey Collymore enjoys bowling at this ground - he's snapped up 20 wickets in three games here - and Jerome Taylor, the home boy, will be a handful as well. India might continue to persist with both spinners and it remains to be seen if they, for the first time in the series, try out the five-bowler formula. Indications are that they won't.


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 Anil Kumble, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 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 Jerome Taylor, 10 Corey Collymore, 11 Pedro Collins.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo