October 5, 2002

Wavell Hinds century spurs Indian reply at Bangalore

Staff Reporter

If the West Indies yesterday had cause to be worried about their bowling, captain Carl Hooper will certainly sleep happier tonight, for the tourists' batting put on a fine show. More importantly, the top three batsmen - an area of weakness in the recent past for the West Indies - stroked themselves into form ahead of a gruelling Test and one-day series.

The opening partnership of Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds grew 108 runs past the overnight score to 128 before the Indian Board President's XI could make an impact. Both Gayle and Hinds played their strokes, the former in particular treating the bowlers with stylish disdain. He hit eight fours and a mighty six before he fell, caught by Sanjay Bangar off Sarandeep Singh for 62 off just 99 balls.

But if the hosts sensed a sniff of a chance to get back into the game, the ensuing second-wicket stand put paid to those hopes. Ramnaresh Sarwan, increasingly looking to be the next West Indian batting star, joined Hinds at the crease, and the pair added 148 runs for the second wicket.

The batsmen played in contrasting styles. Hinds was all strokes and flair, pouncing on loose deliveries and running singles hard. Sarwan in contrast played a better waiting game, eschewing risk for solidity. The West Indies, consequently, benefited immensely from this dichotomy.

Hinds finally fell with the score on 276, leg-before to left-arm spinner Murali Kartik. But by the he had made 147 off 187 balls, with 17 fours and four sixes. More importantly, he had just taken the West Indies past the Board President's XI first-innings total of 275.

Sarwan was joined by the equally dogged Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who gave the Indians so much misery on their tour of the Caribbean earlier this year. Today too Chanderpaul looked determined, and his score of 20 off 77 balls, with just one boundary, reflected that. Sarwan was seven runs short of his century when stumps were drawn, having made 93 off 218 balls with 13 fours and one six.

With a 66-run lead over the Board President's XI and eight wickets in the kitty, the West Indies would be hard-put to lose this tour fixture. It might also be difficult to notch up an outright win, but the first match of a tour is usually utilised to get batsmen into form, and in that respect this game has been a success for the tourists.