India look to seal series against Gayle-less WIndies
Antigua: A formidable lead in hand, a sprightly India would be aiming to seal the series when it takes on a depleted and low-on-confidence West Indies in the third cricket one-dayer of a five-match series, here on Saturday.
In what would be good news for the Indian camp, West Indies appear to have mortally wounded themselves by leaving out the explosive Chris Gayle yet again because of his ongoing feud with the Cricket Board.
Down 0-2 and with the series on line, West Indies selectors have also gone ahead and rested Dwayne Bravo and Ravi Rampaul.
Gayle is apparently incommunicado even though his tweets are appearing by the hours.
The WICB deciding to hold back the announcement of team for the fourth one-day international on Monday, however, would suggest they are keen for this deadlock to break.
Bravo and Rampaul are missing because the former has requested for a break and was granted while the latter is suffering from the ill-effects of a heavy workload.
It is ironic that while the young Indians are clamouring for more games and more pressure, the West Indian players are seeking breaks at such a crucial juncture in the series.
Be that as it may, it leaves a mediocre West Indies squad even more depleted.
On paper, West Indies have two tearaway fast bowlers in the returning Kemar Roach and Andre Russell but the batting friendly conditions could make them ineffective against a rampant young Indian side.
Batting has been the decisive factor at this Caribbean ground where 300 runs is a norm and frontline bowlers are known to go in excess of 50 runs from their 10 overs.
West Indies, to top it, have never won any of their four games at this venue after being clobbered for 158 runs by Australian Matthew Hayden in a 2007 World Cup game.
Not only the cricket team but even infrastructure-wise, West Indies is facing huge embarrassment.
The ground staff of Queen`s Park Oval in Trinidad allowed the square to be so sodden by a passing shower that 13 overs were lopped off from the second one-day international on Wednesday.
The local fans are also keeping their fingers crossed as the last Test against England in 2009 at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here was abandoned after umpires ruled the ground unfit to play due to sandy outfield. In all, only 10 balls were bowled in that match.
But all this set aside, the Indians have mastered the conditions pretty well and practically all batsmen, barring Yusuf Pathan, have had a decent hit in the middle.
If the clinical wins in the first two ODIs were any indication, the Indians have coped with the absence of seniors such as Sachin Tendulkar and regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni pretty well.
The visitors can`t wait for the game to start as they are likely to get value for the shots which wasn`t the case on extremely sluggish surface in Trinidad.
Interestingly, spinners haven`t had much purchase at this venue. It is another thing though that the hosts may still not come to terms with India`s slow men.
The reputation of Harbhajan Singh and the class of Amit Mishra is presently proving too much for them.
Indian batsmen are doing the task competently but given the rank amateurishness of this West Indies team, their job has only been simplified.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Carlton Baugh, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Kirk Edwards, Danza Hyatt, Kemar Roach, Anthony Martin, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Lendl Simmons.
India: Suresh Raina (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, S Badrinath, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma.
The match will begin 6.30 pm IST.