From the news trickling in from Barbados — the venue for the second Test between India and West Indies — two things come across as most important. Firstly, the island has been experiencing frequent rainfall in the last one week. Second, the wicket at Kensington Oval is a hard one with lots of bounce in store that will assist pacers.
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, for one, is looking to have fast bowler Kemar Roach in the team for the Test beginning June 27.
That leaves the Indian team with the question whether they’ll head to the game with the same combination or look for changes in this winning combination.
Munaf Patel is on his way to being declared fit for the second Test. This was confirmed to TOI by a team source and the pacer is likely to hit the nets as soon as India land in Barbados on Saturday.
If Munaf is fit, captain MS Dhoni, and coaches Duncan Fletcher and Eric Simons would certainly want him in the playing eleven. However, going by the indications, it will not lead to the team’s think-tank tinkering with the combination of Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar who bowled exceptionally well in the first Test.
Munaf’s inclusion, if at all, is likely to leave leg-spinner Amit Mishra on the bench. Mishra picked two wickets in both innings of the West Indies but wickets alone may not count in his favour considering the way most batsmen, especially the tailenders, and Devendra Bishoo in particular, played him on the fourth day of the Test.
Unless the wicket at Kensington gives Dhoni other ideas when he personally inspects it, the Indian attack in all likelihood may see a three-pronged pace attack with Harbhajan Singh as the full-time spinner and Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli pitching in part-timers.
The skipper spoke of his batsmen, some of whom were tested with bouncers, in India’s first innings. “A lot has been spoken about the short stuff. If you want to do well consistently at the international level, you have to face it. That is one area where the youngsters are trying to improve.”
The skipper was all praise for Rahul Dravid’s batting in both innings, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh’s partnership on the first day of the Test and Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma’s spells that always kept India in the game.
“We missed quite a few key players in this Test match, which meant somebody had to take the responsibility and I’m glad the team took up the responsibility for the way we performed. Rahul, as usual, was exceptional,” he said.