Team India keen to finish on high note

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:It will be the one last chance for Rahul Dravid's side to prove their dominance in the longer version of the game when they take on Bangladesh in the final Test at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here on Friday with a host of worries.

The series has so far been frustrating with the elements interfering in the proceedings with repeated lust. Now with the weather promising to hold up, India has a last chance to finish the series on a winning note.

Despite the sound and fury of Cricket manager Ravi Shastri of being 'merciless', India has hardly been convincing in their victories as skipper Rahul Dravid's comment, ''We were as convincing as it gets'' had left a lot unsaid.

In the first Test at Chittagong where around 200 overs were lost due to rain, Bangladesh showed tremendous character and stomach not to give up.

Despite conceding a first innings lead of 149, the fighting 79-runs ninth wicket partnership and then dragging India on the mat at 100 for six in the second innings were the proofs of Bangladesh's fighting character.

Bashar talked of 'psychological edge' and Dravid does not want to fight psychological battles. The DhakaTest will thus be a Test for Team India to showcase their ruthless dominance over a side that has played their first test in 13 months a couple of days back.

Onto their last leg, India go into the match with some worrying factors that is hard to hide. Wasim Jaffer has been a sitting duck to the game plan set up by the Bangladeshi pacers.

He, is undoubtedly talented, but inconsistent to say the least.

Even in South Africa late last year, India's opening problems continued to worry the team with Jaffer hitting the rock bottom with a string of failures before doing himself a big favour hitting a century to book a berth for Bangladesh.

The Mumbai willlower's 'pair', including the first ball dismissal in the first innings of the Chittagong Test, has triggered speculations about either Yuvraj Singh or Sourav Ganguly opening the innings in place of him.

Yuvraj has been reasonably successful on the opening slot whenever opportunities have come before his knee injury took over.

The other possibility would of course be Sourav Ganguly being asked to open and VVS Laxman coming in to bolster the middle order. But the fact is that Ganguly is doing well where he could be a deterring factor.

The Bengal southpaw has been successful as an opener and has said he is willing to bat anywhere. And Laxman who has been consistant in South Africa and against West Indies can be a huge addition. But should Jaffer get a chance, which he will in all probability, he will be raring to make his detractors shut-up.

However, the young Dinesh Kaarthick, who partnered Jaffer in Chittagong, came good in the first innings scoring a classy half century and looked good in the second innings too before he perished trying to challenge the clock.

Jumbo boost for India: Of course Anil Kumble will be back to bolster the bowling. He is such an asset with commitment of a debutant oozing even after 15 years and 534 wickets in his kitty. But who does he partner? Ramesh Powar tried his best on his debut, but the sixes he was hoicked for by Mashhraffe and Shahdat leaves a lot more to be desired. But for now he has the sanction.

However, the real worry is the pace bowling department. RP Singh is fresh and hungry, Zaheer Khan old and wily, but the case is totally different with VRV Singh. He is just running in 20 steps and delivering the ball.

But in all probability, he will play because Dravid seems in no mood to risk rookie pacer Ishant Sharma unless someone is ill.

The good thing is that the middle order looks solid with Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and MS Dhoni all among runs.

Bangla upbeat: In contrast, Bangladesh looks like a side that is bubbling with a new found energy that has surfaced into the Test team in osmosis from the ODI side.

Shahriar Nafees, Rajin Saleh, Sakib-al-Hasan and Javed Omar are in cracking form and are a handful provided they last long.

Mashrafee Mortaza is an asset down the order. In the bowling department also, the pacer duo of Mortaza and Shahdat Hossain has done a brilliant job.

However, a lot remains to be desired from the left-arm spinners, including Mohd. Rafique who had three wickets in last match.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi skipper Habibul Bashar said, ''We will go into the match with a psychological edge of not allowing them to dominate us and from the way we came back into the game.''

The fact that India is not taking Bashar's men lightly anymore, proves that Bangladesh is on an upward curve. But five days is a long time and the Tigers does not have the experience or the stamina to face the grind of international repeated and incessant challenge, which India will fancy to cash in on.

Meanwhile, the wicket seems to be a beauty, as the stadium itself, and promises to hold good for the next five days.

In another five days the series ends and Team India would like to return home for 'greater challenges' with the mind-frame of achievers. So to make things simple, India for once in this series needs to play the Test match like winners with a demolition squad that knows 'no mercy'.


India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Kaarthick, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Anil Kumble, Rajesh Pawar, Romesh Pawar, Wasim Jaffer and VRV Singh.

Bangladesh: Habibul Bashar (capt), Mohammed Ashrafful, Emanuel Haque (jr), Javed Omar, Khaled Mashud (wk), Mashrafee Mortaza, Mehrab Hossain (jr), Mohd. Rafique, Rajen Saleh, Shakib-al-Hasan, Shahdat Hossain, Sahariyar Nafees and Sayed Rasel.

Umpires: Daryl Harper (Aus), Billy Doctrove (WI) and Third Umpire: Enamul Haque Moni (Ban).

Match Referee: Rohsan Mahanama.


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