Mumbai pitches it right
India have sealed series but conditions should throw up rivetting battle. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports. Match reckoner | Records in offing & unmatchable featsindia Updated: Nov 22, 2011 11:13 IST
Sabina Park curator Charlie Joseph loves to talk about the cricket in the 70s and 80s. It was when the Calypsos ruled the world. Their aura was built not merely because they were world beaters but also because they were the best entertainers in the business.
The Wankhede regulars know about West Indies' golden era -- after all, Clive Lloyd's team played the first-ever Test here. Caribbean pace legend, Courtney Walsh, was at the ground on Sunday to give a pep talk to the team ahead of the third Test, which starts on Tuesday. Had he been playing, he would have given the curator, Sudhir Naik, the same warm hug. The Jamaican simply loved bowling at Wankhede. He took 17 wickets in two Tests to record his best strike-rate (28.82) of all venues. And the strip Naik has laid out this time looks just perfect to put on a show.
The series is settled but, first and foremost, sport is about entertainment. Made to play on low and dead tracks at Delhi and Eden, the fast bowlers would love the green tinge on the pitch and the batsmen would look to unleash their strokes.
India will start heavy favourites to complete a rare series sweep but the connoisseurs would look forward to some interesting duels. Speed merchants Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards would be raring to have a go at VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul's battle against spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha should also be exciting, provided he overcomes a calf strain.
The most interesting passage of play could well be after the tea-break. The strong sea breeze late in the afternoon does aid the pacers at Wankhede.
In the old stadium structure, teams would bring back their pacers after the second break, and on most occasions things would start happening, and usually a cluster of wickets would fall. This is the first Test in the renovated stadium, and the pacers should like it more as it is more airy. No wonder, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy revealed they are toying with the idea of going in with an all-pace attack with Ravi Rampaul returning to the eleven.
It is an important game for the home players from the point of view of the coming Australian tour. Sachin Tendulkar would be determined to get the monkey off his back by getting his 100th century, but looking at the larger picture, the player who will be keenly watched will be Virat Kohli. The selectors have started the transition process, if Kohli comes good, it will make the transition smooth and give the selectors the confidence to soon blood Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.