Windies look to bury bad memories even as Sachin's ton looms
With India having comprehensively overpowered the Windies in the first two Tests, the hosts look good to continue their dominance over the visitors. And with a fairly poor record at the Wankhede, it looks a tough job for the Windies to rewrite history, says Bikash Mohapatra.
Team India's resounding innings win at the Eden Gardens last week ensured the hosts an unassailable 2-0 lead against the West Indies in the ongoing series.
The third and final Test, beginning at the Wankhede stadium on Tuesday, may, therefore, seem a mere formality. However, the same could just end up being something special.
For starters, it gives MS Dhoni's men to complete a clean sweep (3-0) and assuage the woes of the whitewash suffered in England not so long ago. If they do manage the same, it will mark the first instance when India blanked the once mighty Caribbeans.
West Indies cricket has been in decline for a long time now. There have been teams, Australia and South Africa to name two -- who have taken advantage of the situation and inflicted total humiliation on the former super power.
However, India, despite the fact that it has not lost a Test against the West Indies since 2002, hasn't yet managed to complete a clean sweep over them. The third Test will provide the home team an opportunity to do so.
Image: Members of the Indian team walk off the field after winning the 2nd Test in Kolkata
Windies have more often than not performed poorly at Wankhede
Team India has dominated the West Indies in each of the two Tests and to expect the down-and-out visitors to hit back and reclaim lost pride would be asking a bit too much. In fact, even if Darren Sammy's team does eke out a draw at the Wankhede that would be considered an achievement.
What will certainly dent the visitors' confidence ahead of the match is the fact that their record at the venue is not something to be proud of. Historically, Wankhede hasn't been one of the grounds where they have dominated.
Even the great West Indies teams of yore failed to win matches at the venue. In fact, the lone Test the West Indies has won at the Wankhede was the first one it ever played, in January 1975 when Clive Lloyd's men thrashed an Indian side led by MAK Pataudi by 205 runs.
Since then, the West Indies has featured in five Tests at the venue, drawing three and losing the last two. The last occasion they played there, in October 2002, they Indies suffered an innings defeat, definitely not very encouraging statistics for a team that has already lost the series and is attempting to salvage some pride.
Image: Darren Sammy
Tendulkar will be under pressure to get that elusive 100th ton
For Team India, though, this statistic might just be the boost they require to strive for a series whitewash.
Then, there is that elusive hundred.
It's been eight months since Sachin Tendulkar last scored a hundred, his 111 against South Africa at Nagpur in the World Cup in March being the last. That happened to be his 99th international hundred.
In the months that have followed, discussions about that 100th international hundred have increased. So have the expectations, as also the pressure.
The Master Blaster has, in the recent times, played down the hype surrounding the same saying it is 'just a number.' However, he is under tremendous pressure to achieve the same and he knows it, even if he does deny it.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
A perfect setting to reach the landmark
Tendulkar's last Test hundred came against South Africa -- 146 at Newlands -- and he has played in six Tests since and failed to add to that. The 38-year-old came tantalizingly close at The Oval, in the second innings of the fourth Test against England, when he managed 91 before Tim Bresnan put paid to his hopes.
More recently, in the opening Test of the ongoing series at Ferozshah Kotla, Tendulkar scored 76, raising hopes before falling prey to the guile of young Devendra Bishoo.
The point is, that elusive hundred from the legend's blade is long overdue and the third Test provides the required platform (read ambience) to score the same. The stage is set. The Wankhede is the Master's home ground. It is up to him to stand up and deliver and make it a memorable Test for his home fans.
Tendulkar apart, another Indian batsman is also chasing a personal milestone ahead of the Test. And it is one that looks more likely to be achieved.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Dravid closing in on a record himself
Rahul Dravid is just 21 runs short of becoming only the second batsman in Tests to surpass 13,000 runs (after Tendulkar, who else?) and the veteran should achieve the same when India bat.
With Yuvraj Singh out of the team -- the lone change to the line-up that pocketed the series – we are bound to witness the inclusion of either Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma.
As mentioned earlier, a West Indies win seems out of question. It is up to the visitors to put up a better fight and make the match more interesting than the two previous Tests.
However, it is Tendulkar who can ensure if this Test at the Wankhede becomes a memorable one or fades into distant memory.
Image: Rahul Dravid