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Barbados blues: India up against pace & history

india Updated: Jun 27, 2011 01:18 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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Having wrapped up the first Test in Kingston with more than a day to spare, India have landed in Barbados high on confidence for the second match starting on Tuesday.

However, MS Dhoni's No. 1 one ranked team will have to conquer a pace frontier if they are to wrap up the series with a match to spare. Missing key batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, it will be up to the batting leadership of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman to guide a young set of batsmen in what is sure to be a test by sheer pace.

A glance at the record books show why Barbados will be tough, even against a weak West Indies. India have lost seven of the eight Tests at the venue, the only draw coming in 1971, thanks to Sunil Gavaskar's final-day century. West Indies see pace as their best bet and the pitch is expected to come closest to what skipper Darren Sammy has been seeking in this series.

Hunting in packs
West Indies fast bowlers have hunted in packs at the ground. The pitch was re-laid for the 2007 one-day World Cup, but groundsman Peter Douglas is sure the home speedsters would have a say: "This pitch will play true to its reputation. Batsmen need to show character," he said. Since 1971, the pacers have held sway. Andy Roberts and Michael Holding conducted the pace orchestra in 1976, Malcolm Marshall and Joel "Big Bird" Garner joined Roberts and Holding in 1983 when only Mohinder Amarnath passed the pace test, scoring 91 and 80. Marshall, Ian Bishop, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose set up an eight-wicket win in 1989 while India's darkest moment in West Indies also came at the ground in 1997 when they were bundled out for 81 to lose by 38 runs. Merv Dillon's eight scalps set up a 10-wicket win in 2002.

Not bad for spin
Former Barbados left-arm spinner Winston Reid felt spinners can also cash in. Harbhajan Singh, four short of the 400-mark in Tests, struggled for the right line in Kingston. "There are many pitches in the Caribbean that don't turn much. This pitch will have good bounce so the line will the crucial," he said. Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma won't mind the life in the pitch.