Bangar most likely to make way for opener Jaffer

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2002, 20:19 [IST]
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Bridgetown: Jaffer's inclusion in the side would be most probably at the cost of all- rounder Sanjay Bangar who was asked to open the innings in the second Test at Port of Spain. Bangar has failed with the bat in all the three innings on this tour so far and has not been very impressive as a bowler too.

The inclusion of Jaffer is likely to be the only change in the winning combination with the Indians looking all set to keep veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble out for this match too. The wicket here is very hard and bouncy with a lot of grass on it and the Indians are almost certain to go in with a three-pronged pace attack comprising Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra as they did in the second Test. "It leaves us again to choose between Harbhajan Singh and Kumble and that is not an easy choice," Ganguly said. Ganguly said a choice between the two spinners would be made only Thursday morning even though he had been criticised for making such a decision about Kumble at the last minute before the second Test.

"What am I expected to do? You don't decide two days in advance that you are going to rest your proven match-winner," Ganguly said. Sources in the team had earlier said that it was Kumble who would once again be left out. "Harbhajan bowled well to Brian Lara in West Indies first innings in Trinidad. Kumble is an asset as he can run through the lower half of any batting line-up," Ganguly said. Meanwhile, West Indies fast bowlers were being told to maintain a better line in order to rein in the Indian batsmen. "They should be trying to bowl four or five balls consistently in an over in the corridor of uncertainty," said captain Carl Hooper. "Six or eight inches outside the off- stump, which keeps a batsman on the backfoot and is leaving." "We know Indian players are very strong square off the wicket on both sides.

We have bowled a lot of half-volleys to drive on the onside and on the pads to push away backward of square-leg," he said. Hooper has been blaming his bowlers for giving too many 'four-balls' to the Indian batsmen and easing the pressure. "We were able to get to (Rahul) Dravid, (Sachin) Tendulkar and Ganguly before hundred runs were scored. But then we probably did not bowl as well as we could have. If we could do that, we could get to the middle order and hopefully dismiss India for a low score," Hooper said contemplating on the second Test. Despite including Dinanath Ramnarine in the 13-member squad, Hooper was not sure whether the leg spinner would play in the match. "Dinanath Ramnarine has as good a chance to play in this Test as 12 others.

It just depends on what the selectors think is the best eleven to go into this match. "The good thing is the selectors had a chance to look at him at St Lucia (during the three-day match). I didn't go there but both (Pedro) Collins and Ramnarine bowled well in that game," Hooper said. The failure of the opening pair to put up a good score was another worry for the West Indies. Hooper said he expected Chris Gayle and Stuart Williams to give them a better start here. "We are looking for that support from them. For want of a better word, lets say we didn't have a good start. It is important to get to a big score in the first innings," he said.

"We have been emphasising for players who reach 50 to get to a big score." Hooper was not ready to read too much into the record of the venue where West Indies have won 19 of the 37 Tests it has played while losing only two. "We have a very good history here but at the end of the day, you have to look at the process. We should play better cricket than we did in Trinidad and try and pull one back." It is going to be another tough time for the Indians here this time with grounds man Richard Edwards, a former Windies fast bowler, preparing a very hard and bouncy track, something the Indians are not known to be very comfortable with. "The pitch has a lot of live grass throughout the surface but a good amount has been rolled in and there will be no more cutting of the grass," Edwards said.

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