Windies to rely on all-pace attack despite defeat

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2002, 20:06 [IST]
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Bridgetown: West Indies skipper Carl Hooper said he would like to rely on an all- pace attack in a bid to win the crucial third Test against India, starting at the Kensington Oval on Thursday.

"I'd be more inclined to go with four fast bowlers. If all things remain equal and the Kensington pitch remains traditionally fast, we might go with four paceman," Hooper said on Wednesday. The track favoured fast bowlers when the two teams last clashed here in 1997 as Ian Bishop took four wickets, and Curtly Ambrose and Franklyn Rose three each to dismiss India for a paltry 81 chasing 120 to win. Hooper's team, however, lost the second Test at Port-of-Spain in Trinidad by 37 runs despite including four pacemen to concede a 1-0 lead in the current five-match series. The hosts have included left-arm fast bowler Pedro Collins in place of Marlon Black to assist Mervyn Dillon, Cameron Cuffy and Adam Sanford. "The idea of playing four fast bowlers is to make use of whatever there's in the wicket, but we've still got to bowl extra hard to get them out twice in the match," said Hooper. The West Indies captain conceded bowling was his team's major problem in recent Tests, saying they had always struggled to get the opposition out twice. "If we look at the last few Test matches, one of our biggest problems was to get the other side out twice," he said. "We went to Sri Lanka and played three pacemen and one spinner on a number of occasions. But we realised we were not able to get the opposition out twice with that combination. We've to turn to four pacemen." Hooper expected an all-round improvement from his team, saying his batsmen also should make sizeable contributions so as to keep the series alive. "We had batting problems in the last Test," he said. "A lot of batsmen are making 50s, but we've to convert them into big scores. It's very important to get a big first-innings total on the board." The hosts scored a modest 245 in the first innings at Port-of-Spain, with both Hooper and Brian Lara getting out immediately after completing half-centuries. "Our batsmen have yet to peak. (Chris) Gayle scored one half-century, while Lara (one half-century in three innings) has not scored as big as he can. So I think we've to pick up our game a couple of notches," said Hooper. The West Indies captain said his team was not short of confidence going into an important match. "We've the self-belief," he said. "I don't think there's anything that suggests otherwise. I'm sure we can raise our performance here and that's what we intend to do over the next five days. "We must not lose this game. If India go 2-0 up here and then the rain falls in the next Test at Antigua and that's it." India skipper Saurav Ganguly also said the Test would play a vital role in deciding the series. "It's an important match for us," Ganguly said, adding India's defeat here five years ago had lost its meaning. "It's past. It doesn't have any meaning. The win in the second Test has boosted our confidence," he said. India again go into the game with a different opening pair, having already tried and failed with two combinations in as many matches. "Wasim Jaffer will open with Shiv Das," said Ganguly. "Ajay Ratra will continue to keep wickets, but it's a toss-up between spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh."

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