India are keeping the cards close to their chest ahead of the second Test against West Indies starting at Eden Gardens on Monday.
They sent Ishant Sharma to the pre-match press conference after Sunday morning’s training session. The fast bowler does not look at the pitch before a match — “never done so in my 39 Tests” — and thus there was no way of knowing what India make of the wicket, which still had a bit of grass on it a day ahead of the Test, but looked dry.
And since Ishant is not part of the team’s think tank, he could not shed light on the possible combination India will field. “The captain and the coach will decide that.”
Tendulkar focussedOne-nil up after a hard-fought come-from-behind win in Delhi, India are unlikely to tinker with their team.
Nine of the 11 who played in Delhi batted in the two nets on Sunday, the exceptions being left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who bowled a long spell, and off-spinner R Ashwin, who was yet to join the squad following his marriage in Chennai early on Sunday.
Sachin Tendulkar, still looking for his hundredth international hundred, broke custom to bat in the pacers’ and spinners’ nets instead of taking throw-downs.
Yuvraj Singh and his rival for the No. 6 slot, Virat Kohli, batted at the same time in adjacent nets.
Spurred by tragedy
Unlike India, West Indies captain Darren Sammy was as open as he has been right through the series.
He shared his grief at the accident in his island, St Lucia, in which 17 people died after a minibus carrying mourners from a funeral plunged off a cliff and into the ocean on Friday. The driver, Michael Alexander, was a friend of Sammy's father and a number of the victims were from Sammy's village, Micoud in Dugard.
Bat out spinners
Sammy was forthcoming when asked about the pitch. “Minus the grass, it looks the same (as the practice pitches, which have been slow). We will definitely consider the option of the other spinner we have in the line-up — (Shane) Shillingford.”
Off-spinner Shillingford is likely to replace pacer Ravi Rampaul, who is in hospital with an upset stomach. For West Indies to get back into the series, they have to bat better against spinners.
“We let them dictate too much and it took the experience of Chanderpaul to show us how to play on the (Kotla) pitch. We hope to take a page out of his book and execute it,” Sammy said.