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India were unnecessarily diffident
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 19 October 2002

The Test at Chennai has almost been entirely devoid of excitement. The only enlivening moments were provided by Virender Sehwag, who batted in his usual blazing manner while making an attractive half-century. His was the example the rest of the Indians should have followed but sadly they chose not to.

On a placid wicket that offered little assistance to fast bowlers, they became overly cautious and showed undue respect to Dillon and company. With most of them failing as a consequence, it was only when the tail-enders arrived and began to give the bowlers the old heave-ho, that the runs began to flow once more. Truly, if it were not for the efforts of Harbhajan Singh and Javagal Srinath, the Indian lead would have been inconsequential.

Parthiv Patel also impressed me a great deal. The 17 year old batted with great Úlan and was never flustered. I certainly feel that he has a great future ahead of him both as a wicket-keeper and lower-order batsman.

When they began their second innings 149 runs in the arrears, the West Indies batsmen seemed to have learnt a lesson or two from Sehwag and the tail-enders. They decided to attack and soon the rewards came pouring in. Chris Gayle might have fallen early but Wavell Hinds and Ramnaresh Sarwan thrived.

Sarwan had a lucky break early in his innings when umpire Shepherd ruled him not out despite the ball coming off the face of the bat, but from there on he grew in confidence and began to play with the greatest of ease. The two sixes that he hit off Harbhajan Singh would have given the young man a lot of pleasure.

Wavell Hinds, his partner, too blossomed and the two put on a meaningful partnership that went on to help the West Indies to wipe off the first innings deficit with some comfort.

Their cause was helped in no small extent by the Indian bowlers losing their rhythm. Bowling on a responsive pitch, the spinners, in particular, failed to extract any turn and bounce. With the West Indies batsmen not afraid to come down the track and give them the full flourish, they became increasingly flustered. The fields too became defensive, as the batsmen were almost given a free run.

Luckily for India, with Hooper falling towards the end of play, they don't seem to have paid a heavy price in the bargain. With this West Indies side lacking the pith and vigour that their predecessors of yore did, they might now find it hard to set the Indians a challenging target. That said the Indians must not take it easy. What they must instead is learn from their mistakes and put up a much better bowling display on the fourth morning, for nothing less than an emphatic win would satisfy the Indian cricket lovers.

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Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth