Mumbai, Nov 20: India will be aiming to complete a 3-0 series whitewash of the West Indies in the final test starting in Mumbai on Tuesday, as the team re-asserts itself in the five-day game.
Comfortable victories in New Delhi and Kolkata have put India back in the groove after a 4-0 series hammering by England, which cost India top spot in the test rankings.
It is hoping to reclaim some of that lost prestige against a West Indies side that remains a mere shadow of past great Caribbean teams, and the predictably one-sided nature of the series has led to many empty seats in the stadiums.
“We will try our best to win the third test but it's difficult to predict anything in cricket,” Dhoni said after wrapping up the Kolkata test by an innings and 15 runs. “We will have to see what kind of wicket we get in Mumbai.”
The final test will be held at the Wankhede Stadium, which is likely to offer a livelier pitch than in the preceding two games, where the inexperienced West Indies batting lineup struggled.
“The West Indies are a good side, their bowling line is quite good,” Dhoni said. “Also, it's not that they can't bat. You have seen in the second innings that they have talented batsmen and we are expecting a tough third test.”
The tourists, which lost the opening test by five wickets, was skittled out for a meager 153 in the first innings at Kolkata but came back strongly to score 463 in the second.
But the depth in Indian batting won the game, as centuries from Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Dhoni helped pile a massive 631-7 declared and subsequently enforce a follow-on.
Left-hander Yuvraj Singh was the only Indian batsman to struggle and has been dropped after scoring only 66 runs in three innings. He has been replaced by Rohit Sharma in the squad, though there is a better chance of Virat Kohli taking the number six slot.
Dhoni acknowledged contributions from his batsmen but also commended the bowling.
“The whole bowling unit looks very balanced. The fast bowlers look very fresh which means they can bowl a lot of overs. The spinners are also bowling in the same way,” Dhoni said.
India's spin pair of Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin has been among wickets and new pace bowler Umesh Yadav too has given a spirited display, taking four second innings wickets in the second test.
West Indies batsman Darren Bravo, whose stylish knock of 136 in Kolkata took his team to the brink of avoiding an innings defeat, cautioned that the West Indies knew what to do in the final test.
“Hopefully, if not a victory, it will be a great chance for us as a team,” Bravo said. “Hopefully we will deliver, hopefully we can come out and counter them.”
Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar played down hype over the prospect of notching his 100th international century on his home ground.
“I feel it is just a number, I am not thinking about it,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying in the Mid-Day newspaper. “I know everyone is talking and thinking about my 100th century. I want to be relaxed and let cricket decide its own course.”
Tendulkar has scored 51 test centuries and 48 in one-day internationals, yet the most recent ton came eight months ago, against South Africa in the World Cup.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Adrian Barath, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Carlton Baugh, Darren Sammy (captain), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Denesh Ramdin, Shane Shillingford, Fidel Edwards, Devendra Bishoo.