With the pummeling they received in England, the Indian Cricket team would have been a relieved lot to seal the series with a game in hand here against the West Indies. But with the third Test beginning at the Wankhede, Dhoni and his boys would love to erase the memories from England with a whitewash against the Windies.
The murmur surrounding the third Test again revolves around Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century and after the poor turnout at Eden Gardens, one can expect the crowds flocking in to watch the maestro get to his century of centuries at his home ground. West Indies, on the other hand, are sweating over the fitness of their best batsmen Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is recovering from a calf strain sustained in Kolkata.
The Indian batsmen have got their act together quickly after conceding the lead in the first Test at Delhi. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag showed why they are an asset to the team at the top of the order while Dravid and Laxman have stroked their way to classy tons. Sachin Tendulkar’s knock was vital while chasing the target at the Kotla while Dhoni stamped his authority with a ferocious ton at the Eden. The only failure in the three innings so far has been Yuvraj Singh, who failed to capitalize on some starts and he paid for it as the selectors decided to omit him for the third Test for the promising Rohit Sharma. It will be interesting to see if Dhoni gives the in-form Rohit a chance in this game or whether he decides to play Kohli at No. 6. Kohli was undone by short pitch bowling when the team travelled to the Caribbean earlier this year and it will be no surprise if Edwards and Co. treat with him the same stuff here.
The good news for the tourists is that Ravi Rampaul has recovered from his stomach bug and is most likely to replace Kemar Roach, thus bringing a variety in the attack. Bishoo impressed one and many in Delhi but flattered to deceive at the Eden. Sammy has taken wickets at vital intervals but the absence of a genuine third seamer continues to trouble the Windies. Bravo did no harm to his comparisons with Brian Lara as he stroked his way to a century at Eden Gardens while Barath and Kirk Edwards have also impressed.
There have been talks of resting Ishant Sharma for the third Test to give Varun Aaron some valuable experience before the tour of Australia while Umesh Yadav has almost booked his ticket to Australia with his spell in Kolkata. With Ashwin and Ojha getting wickets regularly, the Indian bowling attack looks in safe hands for some time to come.
The pitch in Mumbai is expected to assist both the batsmen and the bowlers and unlike the low and slow pitches in Delhi and Kolkata, it is expected to have something in it for the pacers as well. All in all, it makes for an exciting contest between bat and ball, thus giving the crowd good value for their money.
West Indies: Adrian Barath, Kraigg Braithwaite, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Carlton Baugh (Wicketkeeper), Darren Sammy (Captain), Devendra Bishoo, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul.
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (Captain and Wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha.