After a tremendous fightback against India to save the Second Test of the Seagrams series, the West Indies go into the third today with rain threatening to put a damper on the action at the Darren Sammy International Stadium in Gros Islet, St Lucia.
Rain has been sweeping the Eastern Caribbean over the last few days and this trend is expected to continue. India leads the four-match series 1-0 with this Test and the final in Trinidad carded for August 18 to 22.
The Indians won the opening Test in Antigua convincingly and looked in control of the second before rain and a rear-guard fightback from the West Indies lower order, led by Roston Chase saved the day. Chase, playing in only his second Test, emulated a feat by the legendary Sir Gary Sobers, by scoring a century and taking five wickets in the same match. His unbeaten 137 in the second innings went a long way in saving the match.
Another factor today is the attempted boycott of the match by locals, as they protest the exclusion of national hero Darren Sammy, from the West Indies T20 team for the upcoming two matches in Fort Lauderdale against the Indians.
A protest is scheduled for this morning at 10am at the ground. According to Cassie Emmanuel, founder of the group protesting Sammy’s exclusion: “This protest serves to raise awareness that supporters of the cricket hero are not satisfied with the manner in which the WICB dismissed one of their very own. The majority believe the manner in which Sammy was informed of the board’s decision to have him removed was disrespectful and done informally.”
Many supporters here have shown interest in being part of the protest.
This will undo months of work by regional commentator Joseph ‘Reds’ Perriera who has been meeting with different businesses and associations in an effort to sponsor their employees, so that they can attend the match. ‘Reds’ has also gotten Indian students studying on the Island to form groups to view the Test match.
West Indies have made a change for this match with struggling opener Rajendra Chandrika out and Shai Hope in, making it seven Barbadians on the squad. Hope has played six Test matches and averages a dismal 15.54. He did, however, score a century against the Indians in their warm-up clash in St Kitts.
A look at the pitch reveals that there is a slight tinge of green and there should be some assistance for the fast bowlers early on. The West Indies selectors are expected to think long and hard, whether to unleash the raw under-19 star Alzzari Joseph.
The right arm quickie picked up four wickets in his last match here for the St Kitts Patriots in the CPL T20, and he enjoyed the pace and bounce.
India will be keen to get on the park and continue their impressive form this series and will hope that the rain keeps away. They are expected to keep their five-pronged bowling attack despite the fact they were unable to bowl out the West Indies on the last day of the last Test at Sabina Park.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Leon Johnson and Marlon Samuels.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.