Openers will have a crucial role to play

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At present both sides seem to be struggling in the Tests, writes Vivian Richards

The Caribbean is awash with soccer fever, and all the islands are rooting for the Soca Warriors from Trinidad and Tobago. Since the timings are more convenient this time than they were during the Japan World Cup, a lot of people will follow the tournament keenly. That is not to say that cricket will take a backseat we West Indians love our sports and the more the better.

The Test at St. Lucia will see the Indians go in with a lot more confidence than in Antigua. The disappointment of not winning the game should not detract from the marvellous turnaround they made in the game, and with the right bit of luck they should do well in this Test. I have plans to go to St. Lucia for the Test, and from all accounts the wicket will be a pace-friendly one. Both sides have their injury worries with Fidel Edwards and S. Sreesanth ruled out.

Pathan may comeback

In all probability Irfan Pathan will make a comeback and it will be exciting to see how he goes. I saw images of the youngster taking tips from my fellow Antiguan Andy Roberts, and it will be interesting to see whether he has been spurred or deflated by his omission from the last Test. It's moments like these that give you an insight into a sportsman's character, and I hope Pathan takes this setback as a challenge.

The other interesting aspect of the Indian team selection would be to see whether Harbhajan Singh makes his way back. The wicket from all accounts does not have much in it for spinners, yet Harbhajan's experience cannot be discounted completely.

As far as the West Indians are concerned, the absence of Edwards would definitely be a blow on a green wicket. His half-brother Pedro Collins makes his way into the squad, and it would be fascinating to see how the Indians fare against his left-arm stuff, since they have often had trouble against left-arm pacemen.

There is also some concern about the fitness of Corey Collymore, so this is not a happy time for the West Indian team management. I am also a little concerned at seeing some old habits creeping back. Even though the last pair hung on eventually, it was not a pretty sight to see the hosts go from three down to nine down in just one session. I would like to see the commitment and intensity we saw in the one-dayers surface in the longer version of the game.

At present both sides seem to be struggling in the Tests since neither team has achieved the consistency that is required to win a five-day game. At Antigua, there were flashes of brilliance from both teams, but neither was consistent enough to deserve a win.

Finally, the openers will play a crucial role in this game since the new ball will certainly do something on this wicket. India are doing well in this department with Wasim Jaffer coming off a double century and Virender Sehwag looking in good nick. The Indians have been searching for a partner for Sehwag for quite some time now, and the emergence of Jaffer will be a huge plus for Dravid and Chappell. They must now be hoping that he continues the good work that he began at Antigua.


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