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India mull three pacers

For the first time in almost two weeks, Munaf Patel steamed in to bowl at the nets, extracting good bounce on a grassy pitch to make the batsmen often miss or nick. That was good news for the team after the enigmatic pacer's elbow injury forced him out of the Kingston Test. N Ananthanarayanan reports. Match box

india Updated: Jun 28, 2011 02:45 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

For the first time in almost two weeks, Munaf Patel steamed in to bowl at the nets, extracting good bounce on a grassy pitch to make the batsmen often miss or nick. That was good news for the team after the enigmatic pacer's elbow injury forced him out of the Kingston Test.

Praveen Kumar grabbed his chance, taking six crucial wickets on debut, and answering questions about his Test match temperament and ability.

Normally, this would have thrown up a dilemma. But India look certain to play three seamers on the bouncy Kensington Oval pitch. The West Indies have a tremendous record at the venue, the most impressive in the Caribbean and regarded as a spiritual home of the region's cricket where their fast bowlers have always hunted in packs.

Pace attack

Skipper MS Dhoni has been goading the inexperienced batsmen to shed their discomfort against sheer pace which will come in the form of Ravi Rampaul and Barbados pacer Fidel Edwards, who bowled hostile spells in Kingston despite returning to cricket after a two-year injury break.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/28_06_pg23b.jpg

Waiting in the wings will be the young and sharp Kemar Roach, but West Indies will be in a dilemma as the third pacer is skipper Darren Sammy and leggie Devendra Bishoo has troubled the batsmen. The young Guyanese having bowled brilliantly since making his Test debut in the preceding home series against Pakistan.

"We will try to start something that has not been started," Dhoni said, when reminded of India's record at the venue. The number one ranked Test team also looked a bit undercooked in Jamaica.

The hosts carry the firepower, but Dhoni wants his bowlers to be smart to keep the struggling West Indies batsmen down. Munaf Patel will be playing his first Test since April 2009. He played in 2006 when India won a series in West Indies after 35 years.

On Sunday, Dhoni placed his palms on the pitch to check its hardness with selectors, Narendra Hirwani and Surendra Bhave, in tow. And it became clear that bowlers, rather than the batsmen, were the focus. "The pacers' role will be important but adaptability will be a key factor," Dhoni said. "The bounce is said to be more which means you will have to pitch it up to bring pressure on the batsmen and get them out."

With only Ishant Sharma really quick, bowling short will reduce chances of getting batsmen bowled or leg before. "The length will be key, and I think bowlers who adapt quickly will be those who will get more wickets than others."

West Indies are likely to include middle-order Marlon Samuels for the axed Brendan Nash, although that may not be enough. They have won 21 of their 46 Tests in Barbados, but six of their nine defeats here have come in the last eight matches.