| LORD OF THE RINGS: Team India members (from left) Venugopal Rao, captain Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina in Port-of-Spain on Thursday, the eve of the fourth ODI against the West Indies. (Reuters)
Port-of-Spain: The Queen’s Park Oval has seen historic Test wins for India, but this is Brian Lara territory. If there’s a doubt, it gets cleared when one disembarks at the First World airport: A bmobile billboard, with a smiling mug of ‘The King’, welcomes you to Trinidad and Tobago.
The West Indies captain, though, doesn’t want to act the perfect host. Rather, he wishes to wrap up the Digicel series on Friday itself, to enable him “sit back and relax” on Sunday, when the fifth and final ODI will be played here itself.
For India, match No.4 has become yet another do-or-die affair. For, being 1-2 down, they can’t afford to suffer a third straight loss to the West Indies. Actually, it has been quite a while ' six months ' since the Rahul Dravids last faced such an equation.
As reported by The Telegraph, Yuvraj Singh is going to return ' he has recovered from back spasms. Yalaka Venugopal Rao, therefore, will have to go out.
The West Indies are set to make two changes.
Former captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been ruled out of the last two ODIs. He has a “slight tear” on his left hamstring and Wavell Hinds has got a call-up. Then, Runako Morton has been dropped and promising opener Sewnarine Chattergoon recalled.
According to a team spokesman, Chanderpaul (an architect of Tuesday’s win in Basseterre) remains with the squad to ensure “continuity” with treatment. It’s not clear, however, whether he’s also going to miss the first Test, in Antigua, from June 2.
While there are Little Indias across Port-of-Spain, Lara felt crowd support wouldn’t be a factor. Dravid recognised India’s excellent record here, but maintained it wouldn’t guarantee anything.
“We’ve had a stop-start tour and it’s time we settled down,” he said, adding “I knew the series would be close, but didn’t expect three last-over finishes in succession... The momentum isn’t with any team, but they can afford one more mistake...”
Lara, who has announced the two matches over three days will probably be his last at the Queen’s Park Oval, pointed out that the West Indies’ approach wouldn’t change. “It’s quite a simple game, getting one more than the opposition...”
Aware that the attention must not move away from the job at hand (“winning the series”), Lara remarked: “The boys are buoyant... Yet, instead of one batsman (Ramnaresh Sarwan) playing the lead role, we need more of an all-round effort... I need to score...”
In Lara’s opinion, neither Hinds (‘he’s experienced to take off straightaway”) nor Chattergoon should have a problem ‘adjusting’ to a tight series.
As it was in Kingston, fingers are crossed over the weather. It rained on Thursday and was overcast till one filed this report.
INDIA: Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth.
WEST INDIES (likely): Chris Gayle, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Wavell Hinds, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Carlton Baugh, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards.
Umpires: Simon Taufel, Billy Doctrove. TV: Steve Bucknor.
Match Referee: Chris Broad.
Match starts: 7.00 pm (IST).
Footnote: The five Test specialists, according to manager Ranjib Biswal, are going to land in Antigua instead of coming to Port-of-Spain and, then, heading for the venue of the two-day practice fixture and Test No. 1. The Anil Kumbles are due on Friday.