Roseau, July 6: India go into the third Test against the West Indies on the threshold of a historic series victory in the Caribbean. The visitors have never won two Tests in a engagement at this neck of the woods. But now they are looking at their best opportunity in years, given the promise of their present composition. The forecast however, has become murkier as the commencement of the encounter nears with rain projected on all five days. So India will have to make the most of the dry time if they wish to grab this final encounter.
However, India's top-order batting still leaves much to be desired. Abhinav Mukund has indicated that he may just be on course to finding a groove in these trying conditions with his defiant 48 in the last match. But he and a poorly performing Murali Vijay will have to coalesce into a formidable pair if they are to give India the kind of momentum it needs to launch out towards the kind of total that will intimidate the Windies. The middle order has had to take guard much too early with the burden of the responsibility descending on the shoulders of the veterans Laxman and Dravid and the most consistent new-comer Suresh Raina.
But India's bowling meanwhile, has effected something of a rejunevation with paceman Ishant Sharma emerging from the shadows of a mediocrity to pick his maiden 10-for in the last game. Praveen Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun have been far from push-overs as well, providing Ishant excellent support while making it hard for the Windies batsman to pick runs off them. Only Harbhajan Singh has been a bit of a disappointment, as he struggles to complete the approaching landmark of 400 scalps in Test cricket.
The Windies realise that a win is all that can redeem them from the ignonimy of another dismal series at home. They will have to up their batting quotient which leans far too much on the grittiness of the middle and latter order. Darren Bravo may have well emerged the hero at Barbados, but the whole line-up will have to pitch in if the Windies want to project themselves as a force to recon with. Plus, they will have to morph their mindset into attack mode to shirk off the ever-mounting pressure and give a resurgent Indian attack a run for their money.
Indeed, the batters will be obliged to draw confidence from an inspired performance from the bowlers in the last match. Fidel Edwards showed that he packs a punch as a potential spearhead for his side. His haul of 8 wickets at Barbados has sounded a warning to the Indians that the Windies attack is not to be trifled with.
All in all, a scintillating match is on the cards at Doiminica. Will India demonstrate the fire-power that makes them worthy of the title of No. 1 or will the Windies wrest back some of its past glory to force a squared series? Roseau holds the answer...