There was a touch of relaxation in the body language of the Indians as they took the field on the first day of the last and final Test. Not too often have India been in a position like this where the last game of the series is a dead one as far as they are concerned. Having won the series in Chennai itself, the Test at Calcutta does not hold the same excitement as the first two did. The gap of more than a week between the second and the final Test also is not much of a help for the intensity does go gown a bit.
They may well pick it up as the match progresses, but when batsmen of the calibre of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman are dismissed after getting set, shows that there is just that air of relaxation, at least on the first day.
India have never beaten the West Indies in all the Test matches of a series and this Test provides them with an opportunity to do so. The older generation of players will forever be grateful to them if they are able to see the West Indies, who blanked India out 5-0 when India toured the Caribbean Isles in 1962, being given the same dose of medicine. Contrary to what the current generation feels, the older generation would love nothing better than to see some of their unfulfilled dreams being realised by the present crop.
The West Indians will definitely think that they have ended day one better than expected, especially after they lost the toss and Sehwag began as if he wanted to reach a century in the first hour itself. His high backlift will give him trouble against bowlers who bring the ball back in. However, at the same time, Sehwagís ability to play shots off even good deliveries means the bowlers will have to find that ball very quickly indeed or else he will have raced off to an unstoppable start.
In Bangar, Sehwag has the ideal foil at the other end, one who is prepared to wait for the scoreable ball. However, Bangar too must not get carried away with playing only a defensive role, because when he tries to break free he is choosing the wrong deliveries to do so. He also pushes a bit away from his body and that lands him into trouble. Still, but for his presence at one end, India could well have ended the day worse than they did.
Dravidís decision once again emphasises how important it is to try and bring in the referral to the third umpire. While Dravid is a settled and established Test player, a new comer on getting a decision like that may never get a chance to play for his country again. Tendulkar looked a lot more positive but he and Ganguly both played disappointing shots to ordinary deliveries and lost their wickets after doing all the hard work of getting their eye in and seeing through the pace and bounce of the pitch.
Laxman, like Sehwag, is a player who can cream the good ball away but the bowler feels he is always in with a chance because of their shot selection.
The second new ball holds the key and if the bowlers get India out for under 300, then they will have put the ball in their batsmenís court to make a match of it. Not much was expected of this West Indiansí attack which looks more like a Kenya attack. But the West Indies batsmen have bigger reputations especially after the India tour earlier in the year and it is now upto them to salvage some pride for their team.