Chanderpaul To Make Record Test Appearance
Thirty-six year old Guyanese Shivnarine Chanderpaul is set to make a record 133rd Test appearance today as the 290 square-mile Island of Dominica host it’s first ever Test match when West Indies face-off with India in the third and final test of the Digicel series from 10:00hrs today.
Chanderpaul, who made his Test debut as 19-year-old in 1994 at Bourda, is level with Courtney Walsh as the most capped West Indian Test cricketers and in a team in which the senior players are fast becoming an endangered species, Chanderpaul is the last man standing. The left-hander has scored five of his 22 tons against India from 20 Tests and who is only behind Brian Lara with runs among West Indians. He will want to produce to prolong his illustrious International career at a time when politics, controversy, disunity and ordinary performances is hampering West Indies cricket.
India looked uncomfortable on pitches with bounce in both Jamaica and Barbados and today’s track could also be helpful for the quick bowlers.
Chanderpaul has not been at his best after being controversially left out of the ODI side and with senior batsmen Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Vice Captain Brendon Nash being no longer a part of the team, will want to be the glue that holds the middle order together. Sarwan has struggled in his last 18 Tests innings without a fifty and he has been replaced by 22-year-old opener Kieran Powell in the only change from the 13 man-squad which held on for a draw in the rain affected second Test in Barbados.
Kurt Edwards could make his debut today as the West Indies selectors continue to generously share out West Indies caps with Guyanese Brandon Bess and Bajan Kraigg Braithwaite being discarded after a solitary Test in the last year. Without Gayle the West Indies lack the threat factor at the top of the order although Adrian Barath can be aggressive but is too loose against the new ball.
Lendl Simmons seems more suited for limited overs cricket and will need to bat responsibly here to give the host a solid foundation as they strive for a series leveling win after losing to India on home soil for only the fifth time in 44 matches in the opening Test in Jamaica. The weather played a major role in the home team maintaining their unbeaten record against India in nine matches in Barbados and Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo, who scored half-centuries in that game, will need to contribute again while Chanderpaul would love to return to form on such a historic occasion.
Carlton Baugh looked good in his unbeaten 46 but Darren Sammy made a duck in his seventh match as Captain and is struggling to silence his critics with a woeful display with the bat as the team’s all rounder although he has not bowled badly. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo has bowled well in this series while Ravi Rampaul has been the stand out fast bowler and has gotten support from the lively Fidel Edwards. Kemar Roach could again be on the bench today along with Powell since Sammy has to play and Bishoo should.
Only twice in 10 Test series (1971 & 2006) in the West Indies has India been victorious but even with an under strength team missing Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Saywag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Sreesanth, India start as the favorites today. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have both showed their experience with the bat but the young guns have struggled for India against the West Indian pacers with the exciting under-19 Skipper Virat Kohli for Indian being especially disappointing.
Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, who has been unlucky to be dismissed in consecutive innings off undetected no balls, and Harbhajan Singh who has not looked his best with the ball, will also want to be among the runs here. Inshant Sharma has bowled beautifully with the new ball and has gotten good support from Praveen Kumar and India could be tempted to bring in pacer Munaf Patel who was kept out through injury to strengthen their pace attack.
India face England in England from later this month in their next series and a win will seal their position as the World’s number one team even if some of the world best players are missing. West Indies have not won a series since they beat England at home in 2009 and have won just one of their last 20 Test matches. A win to avoid another series defeat here is vital, especially for Skipper Sammy and Coach Otis Gibson to justify all their talk about improvements and positives in a team which seems incapable of batting out a day and a half of a Test match.
Today is an auspicious day here as Windsor Park becomes the 12th Test venue in the West Indies and 160th in the world and a large crowd is anticipated even on a weekday.