Windies target more success against India

Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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St Johns:West Indies are hoping to build on the momentum they have gained from their triumph in the preceding One-day International series, when they face India in the first Test of their four-match rubber at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

West Indies rebounded from defeat in the first ODI which the two sides contested to win the last four ODIs on the trot.

It appears they have claimed a psychological boost ahead of the Tests, but their captain Brian Lara has advised caution.

"We know we have to switch off from the ODI game now and move into the Test series because the ODIs are done and dusted," remarked Lara.

"In the Test series, we know that it's going to be a tough task to beat India, but we are going to be working really, really hard.

The ODI series has helped our confidence and our mental approach, so the guys are really looking forward to the Test series now.

"The confidence is high, but we can't get carried away. We just came from New Zealand, where we lost a couple of Tests in which we came close to winning, and we lost a couple against South Africa earlier last year in similar circumstances, so we have to keep our feet on the ground."

Lara indicated that he would advise his teammates to refocus on the virtues of Tests to ensure that West Indies does well in the face of tough opposition. "India are a great opponent, and they have two outstanding spinners - Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh - and they will not be easy to conquer, especially if we get a similar type of pitch for Tests as we got for the ODIs," he said.

On the other hand, India will want to quickly forget the ODI series that spiralled out of control, and this time justify the favourites' tag that has been pinned upon them.

"We have to regroup after losing the ODI series and fight back in the Test series," India's captain Rahul Dravid commented.

"A lot of times our teams have bounced back from defeats. Recently, our ODI team bounced back from defeat in the Test series in Pakistan, and so now it is a challenge for our Test team to regroup, bounce back, and put up a much better display in the Test matches than our ODI side did."

For both sides, the series that also features Tests at Gros Islet (June 10-14), Basseterre (June 22-26), and Kingston (June 30-July 4) is vital.

For West Indies, rated at eight on the International Cricket Council's Test Rankings, they would want to achieve victory over the visitors to give proof that the ODI series triumph was no fluke, and inform the rest of the World that they should take careful notice, since they are well and truly on the rebound.

For India, they will want to re-focus on their main goal of the trip which is to achieve a Test series victory over the Calypso Kings for the first time in 35 years on Caribbean soil, and retain their third place on the ICC Test Rankings, signalling their status as an emerging giant in the World.

West Indies have formed the nucleus of their side from the majority of players that featured in the ODIs series against the Indians which means that opener Daren Ganga is the only new face the visitors will come across in the first Test.

India have been fortified with the arrival of five players to replace a similar number of the personnel from the ODIs, so this means that West Indies will have to find a way around the guile of champion leg-spin bowler Anil Kumble and the enterprise of batsman Venkatsai Laxman.

The ARG pitch has become notorious for being a featherbed in recent times, but head curator Keith Frederick has promised that the pitch will be harder, have a much thicker coating of grass, and should favour the fast bowlers on both sides.


West Indies (from): Brian Lara (captain), Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Corey Collymore, Fidel Edwards, Daren Ganga, Chris Gayle, Dave Mohammed, Runako Morton, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor.

India (from): Rahul Dravid (captain), Mahendra Dhoni, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammed Kaif, Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble, Venkatsai Laxman, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Vikram Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Shantha Sreesanth.

Umpires: Simon Taufel, Asad Rauf, TV Replays: Billy Doctrove, Reserve: Clancy Mack

Match referee: Jeff Crowe.

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