Port-of-Spain (Trinidad): India and the West Indies go into the second Test here on Friday hoping to put up a better bowling performance to seize the initiative in the five-match series. Both the teams squandered an advantage in the rain-hit opening Test, which ended in a draw at Georgetown, Guyana on Monday. Paceman Javagal Srinath reduced the West Indies to 44 for three on the first morning of the match, but received no support from the other end as the hosts went on to amass 501 in their only innings. The West Indies then looked set to enforce a follow on and gain a psychological edge when it sent India reeling at 275 for seven, but only to see its bowlers fail to complete the job.
Rahul Dravid slammed a plucky 144 not out to steer India past the follow on mark of 302, sharing a 120-run stand with tailender Sharandeep Singh (39 not out). India is likely to go into the Test with a first-choice attack as top off spinner Harbhajan Singh has been declared fit. "He has been declared fit by physio Andrew Leipus for the match and is available for selection. The playing 11 will be decided later," Indian cricket manager Gautam Dasgupta said on Wednesday. The spinner was ruled out of the opening Test due to a shoulder-injury, sustained during a three-day game before the match. His replacement, Sharandeep, failed to solve India's bowling problems as he finished with one for 80 off 21 overs in his maiden overseas Test. Harbhajan, seven short of 100 Test wickets, rose to prominence with a 32-wicket haul against Steve Waugh's Australians last year.
His absence in the first Test was severely felt by the tourists, who struggled to keep the pressure on the West Indies. The Indian manager said Dravid was feeling better after being struck on the grill on his helmet during the Test. "There's a little bit of swelling, but no pain," Dasgupta said. Bowling was India's main worry in the first match, with Srinath alone giving a good account of himself with a three-wicket burst. He, however, got little support from the other end as key leg spinner Anil Kumble and left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan both failed to impress. Kumble and Zaheer shared four wickets, but proved expensive as the West Indian batsmen made merry on a good pitch to post a big total.
Skipper Carl Hooper led the run-riot with a superb 233, sharing a record 293-run stand for the fifth wicket with fellow-Guyanese Shivnarine Chanderpaul (140). Indian coach John Wright conceded that none of the bowlers could support Srinath. "Somebody has to chip in from the other end," Wright said, adding he hoped Harbhajan's return to the squad would provide sharpness to the attack. West Indies skipper Carl Hooper also expected his bowlers to deliver this time, saying they could have done better in the previous match. Also hoping to make amends is batting star Brian Lara, playing on his home ground. The prolific left-hander could not score at Georgetown, falling to a controversial caught-behind decision. "Im sure Brian Lara and the rest who didn't get runs (in Guyana) will be out to prove their worth in the second Test," said West Indian manager Ricky Skerrit.
West Indies (from): Carl Hooper (captain), Chris Gayle, Stuart Williams, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ryan Hinds, Junior Murray, Mervyn Dillon, Cameron Cuffy, Marlon Black, Adam Sanford and Mahendra Nagamootoo.
India (from): Saurav Ganguly (captain), Shiv Sunder Das, Deep Dasgupta, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Dinesh Mongia, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Sanjay Bangar, Ajay Ratra, Tinu Yohannan, Ashish Nehra, Wasim Jaffer and Sharandeep Singh.