St John's (Antigua): India skipper Saurav Ganguly on Wednesday said his aim was to lead his team to a rare away Test series win and to score a century in the West Indies.
"It's important for any batsman to score a hundred, especially against the West Indies," Ganguly said ahead of Friday's fourth Test against the hosts at the Antigua Recreation Ground. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh, one short of his 100th Test wicket, is unlikely to complete his century here. "He'll probably be replaced with Anil Kumble," said Ganguly, one of the most consistent batsmen with two half-centuries in the last three Test innings to his credit. "There're still two more matches to go and I'm looking forward to scoring my first century in the West Indies," said Ganguly, who failed to score even a half-century on the last tour in 1997. He returned to form with an impressive 75 at Port of Spain in the second Test, won by his team to gain a 1-0 lead. The hosts squared the five-match series with a 10-wicket victory in the third Test at Bridgetown, but not before finding the Indian captain in a superb touch. Ganguly said his team had a chance to win the series if the batsmen did justice to their statures in the remaining two Tests. "We've to bat really well to beat the West Indies," said Ganguly, who top-scored with 48 in the first innings total of 102 and an unbeaten 60 in the second before being denied an opportunity to push for his maiden hundred by a fragile lower-order batting in the last match. Besides leg spinner Kumble, wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta also is expected to be included in the team. Kumble, only the second bowler after Englishman Jim Laker to bag a perfect-10 in a Test innings, was dropped after returning an expensive two for 145 in the opening Test as India played with three fast bowlers and one spinner in the next two matches. "He is more experienced and has taken a lot of wickets on the last tour," Ganguly said of Kumble, who took 19 in five matches to emerge as the most successful bowler in 1997. Harbhajan was also a disappointment on pitches that hardly favoured spin in the first three Tests, taking six wickets in four innings. "Our spinners don't always find suitable tracks outside India. That's why they can't take wickets as consistently as at home. Moreover, the West Indies have good players of spin," said Ganguly. The West Indies' problems are not different from those of India as it also has an unsettled top and lower order. "Opening an innings is bit of a worry," said West Indies skipper Carl Hooper. "I think we can play better. I think we've yet to perform at full steam. Brian Lara is yet to get going. He has shown only glimpses of his form, but I hope he returns to his big-scoring ways in this match." Lara, with two half-centuries in four innings, scored a world-record 375 against England at this venue in 1994. The West Indies made one change from the squad that won the third Test, including opener Wavell Hinds in place of Stuart Williams. Hooper, however, was satisfied with his team's bowling performance in the last game. "We know our bowlers are capable of doing well. They've often come good when it matters most," he said. Teams (from): West Indies: Carl Hooper (captain), Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ridley Jacobs, Mervyn Dillon, Adam Sanford, Cameron Cuffy, Pedro Collins, Ryan Hinds and Dinanath Ramnarine. India: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Shiv Das, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Deep Dasgupta, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Ajay Ratra, Sanjay Bangar, Sarandeep Singh and Tinu Yohannan.
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