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November 22, 2001
Ramprakash - in good form
England have good reasons to smile and feel happy - their star batsman Mark Ramprakash has run into tremendous form on this tour. He made a crisp unbeaten half-century in Mumbai and on Thursday at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad, the stylish Surrey batsman continued the good work while holding the England innings together with a well-compiled century.
Ramprakash made 105 runs off 182 balls, with the help of nine boundaries and two sixes against an attack that included Sarandeep Singh and Murali Kartik. Nasser Hussain must have been mighty pleased with Ramprakash's efforts though the latter's dismissal, which saw him bowled when he tried to slog Kartik out of the ground, was not exactly copybook stuff.
A happy and visibly relieved Ramprakash spoke to the media after the day's play, "In these conditions you need a lot of patience with the spinners bowling long spells. It was a very slow and low wicket. You have to be patient and score runs whenever possible, score off the bad balls."
"I thought they (the spinners) bowled very well and it was indeed a hard day for all our batsmen. I think it was a very good team performance, but it was a struggle, to be on 149/5 at one stage. We had to work hard, the lower order came in and did a good job. Nasser Hussain and Mark Butcher had time at the crease, which are good positives for the side. 297/9 is a competitive score."
About the positive and robust approach he has shown on this tour, Ramprakash said, "We saw England in 1993, they struggled a lot. Hick and Lewis scored the only two hundreds on that tour and both of them hit down the ground. Obviously you have to strike a balance; there is always the risk in trying to hit the bowlers over the top, so it is a good learning process for us. We still have one match to go in Jaipur and we are quite happy with the way things are going."
On the high-risk shots that have been played so far, he said, "It is really difficult; if you stay at the crease and poke, people will say you got to use your feet. If you use your feet and try to take the attack to the bowlers and if it doesn't come off, people will then criticise, so there is a risk in any shot you play, each batsman has to have their own game plan and try to stick to that. We just work on the game plan, this has been a great match practice against a good competitive opposition."
England batsmen got to play 53 overs of high class spin attack and Ramprakash was quick to observe the obvious benefits. "That's what we need, we are going to be up against class spinners in Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. I think he (Sarandeep Singh) bowled very well, some balls turned very sharply."
Ramprakash showered praises on the two spinners, Sarandeep Singh and Kartik, "They both seem to be consistent bowlers. They don't go to pieces if you hit one or two over the top, they just keep coming back at you, perhaps a little slower, a trifle higher. The duo impressed me today."
When asked about his success while playing abroad, the stylish batsman said, "I have enjoyed playing abroad, I had been to Sri Lanka at a very young age on an 'A' tour. I have enjoyed the tours to West Indies and I suppose, when the sun is out it is very nice to play cricket."
Ramprakash admitted that all the media attention back home along with the pressure of expectation has had its negative effect in the past. He was quick to add, "I am pretty much happy with the way I have approached cricket during this summer."
Visiting India has already left a positive impression on Ramprakash. It was quite a pleasing experience for him to visit the Birla Temple on Wednesday. Ramprakash's focus, meanwhile, is clearly on cricket for he will have to deliver a lot of runs in the Test series. That did not prevent the soft-spoken cricketer though from adding, "You come to India not only to play cricket but to experience a bit of life also."
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