Rain dampens West Indies' hopes of making history

Shivnarine Chanderpaul goes for the hook AFP

West Indies' hopes of winning a Test series in the subcontinent is in danger of being washed out by persistent rain which is threatening to disrupt the third and final Test due to begin at international cricket's 104th Test venue, Pallekele, on Wednesday.

"To win the series is massive for us especially in the subcontinent," West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said. "I can't tell you the last time we won in the subcontinent. To be also in with a chance of winning here still is exciting and all the players are aware of that.

"At the same time we've not won a lot of series either. We are still in with a chance. We will be disappointed we didn't get to play a lot of cricket. At the end of the day we are cricketers and we are here to play cricket. The way we played in the first Test excited us and we wanted to continue and play more cricket. The second Test we didn't play very well and this is an opportunity to win a series away from home."

West Indies last won in the subcontinent against one of the three giants of Asian cricket in 1983-84 when Clive Lloyd's team beat India 3-0 in a six-Test series. This series has been dogged by bad weather and the series remains tied at 0-0 going into the decider.

"There is not much that you can do about the weather but at the same time we've come up here hoping to start reconstruction of West Indies cricket," Gibson said. "This tour has given us that opportunity but the weather has put paid to that. It's disappointing to sit around and find ways to entertain the troops.

"We have got a pretty good bunch keeping themselves motivated. There's a little card game going on, very casual friendly stuff, a dominoes game as well and some people retreat into their own space and listen to music and stuff like that. Sulieman Benn is always very entertaining. It's tough, but we've been managing okay and staying focussed still with all the rain and everything going on."

West Indies managed a practice session on Monday, and though Gibson got a look of the conditions he was not in a hurry to name the final XI. He also hoped for an improved performance on the field. "We had a look at the surface and the outfield. We'll put a team out tomorrow taking into consideration the weather conditions we are expecting to get over the next five days.

"We have been pretty consistent until now. We bowled well but we haven't taken the catches that came our way. In Colombo if we had taken the catches it would have been a very different story. When we create opportunities to get wickets we need to catch the ball and we didn't catch very well. [Kumar] Sangakkara got a chance on 2 and went onto get a 150. The bowlers have bowled very well according to the conditions but we've just not caught the ball as well as we can do. That's something that I hope we will improve."

Apart from the fielding Gibson stated that West Indies also needed more consistency from their batsmen. "The first Test was built around a massive innings from Chris Gayle. In the second Test, Chris didn't make runs and we didn't bat very well. Other guys need to put their hand up and make runs.

"Shiv [Shivnarine Chanderpaul] is a very hard worker, very experienced and he is certainly been one of our best players. He hasn't hit his straps yet. I know he is looking forward to playing in this Test match and get some runs. He is hungry for runs which he has always been throughout his career. He hasn't performed in the first two games and this game gives him an opportunity to go out and get some runs for us. He knows the responsibility as within the group and keeps everybody calm with his batting."