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Take Antigua and take the Tests

Vivian Richards says that if the hosts retain their momentum they could have a complete series win.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 17:49 IST

The 4-1 victory over the Indians in the one-dayers is a huge boost for West Indies. India came here ranked third in the ICC rankings, with 16 straight winning chases behind them, but the hosts still managed to defeat them, thanks to a mantra I always believe in: Passion plus planning.

The benefits of this victory need to be solidified in the Test series. The Indians must be hurting real bad, and would try to make amends in the Tests. However, one must remember that three of the five games could have gone either way, so while the 4-1 margin may seem sizeable, the games were closely fought.

Moreover, with Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman joining the tourists for the Tests, the team is a lot more experienced. The absence of Tendulkar will continue to hamper the Indians, and his replacement must utilize this opportunity.

I would like to see Virender Sehwag take up some more responsibility in the absence of his team-mate. He must plan his innings with a bit more thought.

The track at the Recreation Park has been a graveyard for bowlers over the last decade. However, there have been times when the pitch has offered a little pace and bounce to the fast bowlers. Hopefully, we will get some of that for the first Test, though I still think it will remain a batsman-friendly wicket.

The West Indies have shown tremendous commitment and aggressive body language right through the one-dayers. The turning point was when Dwayne Bravo bowled Yuvraj Singh in that second one-dayer.

I have also been really impressed with Brian Lara's captaincy. I was pretty sceptical about how things would pan out with him back at the helm, but he has been pretty special so far. The West Indian think-tank certainly outthought and out-planned the Indians in the one-dayers.

His team looks pretty strong for the Tests as well, with a fair bit of experience in the batting. Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Lara all have good knocks behind them; the bowling is comparatively raw, but I think Taylor and Edwards do have a great deal of potential. Dwayne Bravo is an exceptional fielder, and lifts the team in that department.

I had predicted that the one-day series would not be an easy ride for the Indians and I was right. On the eve of the Tests, I predict that the Antigua Test is going to be crucial — if the hosts maintain the momentum they have from the one-dayers, they will head towards a complete series win.

However, if the Indians are allowed to come back strongly in this Test, they won’t let go of that initiative. It's going to be another seesaw battle. Windies won the crucial moments in the ODIs — the Test series will go to the team that does so in the Tests.