India is the form team, but the West Indies players will have a spring in their steps after their second-Test fightback
A determined West Indies side and the elements thwarted India in the second Test in Kingston, and it will have to prepare for more of the same when the two teams meet again on Tuesday (August 9) in the third Test in St Lucia.
Rain is forecast on the first four days of the Test so several interruptions during the course of the game could be the pattern.
India could also be up against a more energised West Indies outfit after the fightback shown by its batsmen on the fifth and final day of the Kingston Test. A stirring, unbeaten 137 from Roston Chase and important contributions from Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich and Jason Holder helped the side secure a draw and, more importantly, keep the four-match series alive after India had won the first Test in Antigua.
Holder, the West Indies captain, later remarked that the side ought to push on from there. "With a performance like this, it’s important we don’t fall back into old habits, that we just don’t take two steps backwards," he said. "It’s important we just keep looking for ways to improve."
India's batsmen have been piling up runs in both games, but West Indies will have realised that it's not impossible to make equally big runs against the No. 2 Test side -- it just requires more patience and pluck. The inclusion of Shai Hope, the 22-year-old Barbados batsman, in place of Rajendra Chandrika, shows that the side is leaving no stone unturned in its quest for a win.
"The team is in good spirits right now, after showing some fighting character in the last Test match to get to a draw," said Shane Dowrich on the eve of the match. "We're up and ready for another fight in this game. If we put our best foot forward, we can come up with a good performance."
Meanwhile, India won't be dwelling too much on the opportunity lost to win in the second Test. Anil Kumble had mentioned after the match that his wards didn't do too much wrong and it was just a combination of excellent rearguard batting from the opposition and overs lost due to rain that did them in.
Mohammed Shami echoed the sentiment on Monday, adding, "There will always be partnerships. We didn't do badly in Kingston, but West Indies played well -- we need to show more patience to pick up wickets."
In any case, the pluses certainly outweigh the minuses for India. There were two splendid hundreds in Kingston by KL Rahul -- playing his first game of the series -- and Ajinkya Rahane. R Ashwin scalped 5 for 52 in the first innings and is the leading wicket-taker of the series so far with 13 wickets. And Virat Kohli, the India captain, is topping the batting charts with 244 runs and counting.
Undoubtedly, India is the in-form team, but West Indies has a spring in its steps now and will be eager to keep the visiting side on its toes. Now it will be up to the weather gods to allow a contest to blossom.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Leon Johnson, Marlon Samuels.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.