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The key is to start well, says Dravid

The skipper suggested that it is unlikely that there will be any change in the combination for the second Test.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 13:23 IST

St. Lucia is not one of West Indies' traditional cricketing centres. No St. Lucian has played Test cricket for West Indies and the second Test against India, beginning at the Beausejour Stadiumon Saturday, is only the third to be played on the island. (The first two were against Sri Lanka (2003) and Bangladesh (2004) and both were drawn).

But that has not prevented the island from having a wonderful stadium. It is spectacularly located, nestled in a stretch of flat land between green, green low-rise hills, and has world-class facilities, including lights, which made it an easy for next year's World Cup organisers to choose it as a venue for one of the semi-finals.

The Indian team played a four-day game here in their last tour in 2002. Skipper Rahul Dravid, who did not play that match, said the stadium was new then and that wicket would not be any basis to make a judgement of the current state of the pitch.

On Thursday morning, when the Indian team reached the stadium at about nine for a serious practice session, the pitch had a lot of grass on it. With two days to go for the start of the Test, it was obvious that there will be work done on it.

As Dravid observed: "It's very hard to read it 48 hours in advance. We'll have a look at it tomorrow and see what it's like before we decide on the right combination for the Test."

But from what Dravid said later during his chat with journalists, that the "wickets here (in the West Indies) are not going to be in favour our spinners too much," it doesn't seem likely that there will be any change in the combination. So it is possible that there will be only one change in the side - Irfan Pathan coming in for the injured S Sreesanth.

According to the locals, the wicket is a batting track. Ishwar Maharaj, born in Trinidad, grown up in Canada (for whom he played in the 2003 World Cup) and now settled in St. Lucia, was one of the net bowlers as the Indians had a three-hour plus practice session. He said that the Beausejour wicket was one of the best batting tracks in the Caribbean.

So it was good to see coach Greg Chappell giving the Indian top order a special tutorial. Surrounded by the top six (Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, VVS Laxman, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif), he spoke about and demonstrated, for over 15 minutes, the importance of balance and footwork in building up a long innings.

Sehwag, who came in for special attention during the lesson, and Jaffer will have vital roles to play in the Test, for according to Dravid, the key to the Test is to start well.

Said Dravid: "The game starts new. It doesn't matter what happened in the first Test. We can take heart from a few things but the important thing is to start well."

First Published: Jun 09, 2006 12:49 IST