Second chance for WI, India to crack the whip

Gros Islet, June 9:

Both West Indies and India are looking forward with renewed vigour to the second Test, starting here on Saturday.

Though the four-Test series is still level 0-0, after West Indies’ last wicket pair of Fidel Edwards and Corey Collymore survived the last 19 balls to earn a draw in the first Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground, both sides had plenty to encourage them.

India might have been depressed at losing the preceding One-day International series 4-1, but they fought back from a first innings deficit of 130 to set West Indies a highly improbable, if not impossible victory target of 392 to win the first Test, only to fail at the last hurdle.

“It doesn’t matter now what happened in the first Test because we have to start fresh - this is a new match,” India captain Rahul Dravid said. “Maybe, West Indies will be confident that they saved that match, but we can take heart from some of the things we did. We are also confident going into this Test. We know we have a pretty young side that can do some good things if they play good cricket. So it is important for us to start this Test well, and see if we can create some pressure on the West Indies early in the match, then that’s something which can hopefully make them crack.”

For West Indies, it was too close for comfort, and another example of letting the opposition escape the belt. “We landed the early blows in the first Test, we were on top for the first two or three days, we know that India has character, we know that they have a strong will to come back, and they showed us this,” West Indies captain Brian Lara said.

“The fact of the matter is that we put our heads in front, and if we had done so in a proper manner would have gone on to win that Test, but we have a lot to take from that Test.”

Both teams have suffered injury setbacks — India’s Shantha Sreesanth has been ruled out with a left heel injury, and Edwards has been sidelined with a right hamstring strain.

It means the way looks paved for the return of two left-arm bowlers that have been important cogs in the wheels of the two sides in previous Tests. India are likely to include three fast bowlers again, with Irfan Pathan coming into the side. West Indies have been fortified with the return to Tests of Pedro Collins, Edwards’ older brother, after one year of nursing a stiff back.