PREVIEW: Stage set for 1st Test at Sabina
Kingston, Jamaica, CMC – Darren Sammy said West Indies “the fighting spirit and belief”, and will focus on winning the first Digicel Test match against India, starting on Monday at Sabina Park.
First ball is 10 am (11 am Eastern Caribbean Time).
“The guys have gone about their business – not only for this Test match, but the entire series – in a very professional way for the cause of representing the West Indies team. The fighting spirit has been evident in the team throughout the One-day International series, and hopefully, we can take this into the Test,” said Sammy on the eve of the Test.
Sammy said Jamaica was still a good place for West Indies to play, hoping that the typically vocal crowd and a helpful pitch would play their part in his side starting the series with a victory.
“I think the history has a lot to do with the way we play when we get to Jamaica. Historically, we have always done well in Jamaica,” he said.
West Indies have won five of their last nine Tests at the ground, but India scored one of four victories by a visiting team five years ago under Rahul Dravid, breaking a 35-year drought for a series victory in the Caribbean.
“It’s been a pitch [over the years] that suits our style…it’s not where the ball would spin past the bat…and better firepower [in the bowling] always has the best chance against the Indians,” said Sammy.
“We expect our batsmen to be more confident. They would have much more time and patience is required. When we chased down 250 here [in the final ODI], we had a game plan. Unlike previous games, the ball wasn’t spinning past the bat. It suited our batsmen, and I expect them to be confident.
He added: “I think our batters prefer their chances against the [Indian] bowlers on this surface. It is not that we underestimate their bowling. It was bouncing in the last one-day game, and we managed to restrict them. In Test cricket, you need to have lots of runs, wickets, and patience. Hopefully, we would do it, and come out victorious.”
India will again be looking to stamp their authority, and live up to their claim of being the World Number 1 Test side. They have fortified their side with the arrival of a number of players, including World Cup and Indian Premier League-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The batting looked more formidable with Rahul Dravid and vice captain VVS Laxman, and they have also boosted their bowling options with Pragyan Ojha. Dhoni said he expected a lively challenge from West Indies, particularly with the pitch promising to help the home team’s fast bowlers.
“That’s what Test cricket is all about,” he said. “You have to negotiate good bowlers and balls, and as a batsman, you need to push the bowlers to bowl into your zone. It will be a good competition for our batsmen. I think the pitch will be different from the first three One-Dayers, where the ball turned a lot.”
He added: “This is an ideal opportunity for each and every individual, and that’s how I want everyone to look at it. What’s important is to create an atmosphere where they love the challenge, because if there is no challenge, you can’t prove the mettle you have.”
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Brendan Nash (vice captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), VVS Laxman (vice captain), Subramaniam Badrinath, Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay
Umpires: Ian Gould, Daryl Harper
Television umpire: Norman Malcolm
ICC Match referee: Jeff Crowe
Fourth official: Gregory Brathwaite