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April 9, 2012
Surprise rippled around the Kensington Oval when the West Indies captain Darren Sammy, not Fidel Edwards, took the ball alongside Kemar Roach to begin the third morning. That surprise turned to admiration in the space of 10 overs of the shrewdest fast medium from Sammy, which returned the figures of 2 for 14 and set the hosts on the path to a commanding position with two days remaining.
Not the fastest bowler, nor the most prominent exponent of swing, Sammy instead relies on unrelenting accuracy and subtle use of angles at the crease for his wickets. Ed Cowan was asked to play at only one of his first eight deliveries, but the ninth was delivered from closer to the stumps and on a line the opener could only nibble at for an edge behind. David Warner fell in similar fashion, pushing firmly at a ball of precise line and "in between" length and offering a catch to Darren Bravo in the slips. Shane Watson, also, could easily have been given out lbw to Sammy, who said his team had planned well.
"I think the batsmen really underestimate me," Sammy said. "They get through the quick men and see me and say 'ah he's not so quick'. But what I rely on is accuracy: frustrate them, frustrate them, take the ball away from them, then get a little closer, just in that little channel to play or leave. That's what I did today and what I've been doing throughout my career, just putting the ball on one spot.
"Warner is new to Test cricket. So is Cowan, and Watto [Watson] has just come back after not playing Test cricket for the last Australian summer. We all knew what to expect from [Michael] Hussey as we saw today, they call him Mr Cricket, he always gets Australia out from crucial positions. We stuck to our plans.
"We noticed [Michael] Clarke and [Ricky] Ponting love the ball closer to them … we had our plans for bowling to them. Last night we didn't execute properly but the plan to Warner and Cowan was to be a little fuller with the ball slanting across, and once we did that we got the results. So we did plan well for their batsmen and bowlers - we were prepared for this series."
Sammy's decision to take the ball straight away on the third morning was also driven by the pragmatism that has characterised his captaincy. By keeping the runs tight at one end, he allowed Edwards or Roach to attack from the other, while also leaving them fresher if the visitors did not lose early wickets.
"We had the two quick men, and it could have been a longer day," Sammy said. "We don't want both of them going at full steam, then we've got to make a change to myself and then the spinner, so the plan was to rotate the two early in the morning and see how it goes, and it worked well for us. [Economy] was considered as well, because they were going at four plus an over and you needed someone to pull it back.
"I understand my job in the team and I just go out there and do it. Everyone will have their opinions but as a unit going forward, I know I'm a crucial member in this bowling unit. If you look at Fidel and Roach they go at around four an over in Test cricket, Bishoo goes at three and I go at two. So my contribution is crucial in the team set-up and I go out and try to do that every day."
Having top scored for his side on a third consecutive day of struggle, Clarke admitted his batsmen would need to learn to adjust their attitude and expectations to adapt to Caribbean conditions, which are slower and more awkward than they seem to have catered for. As in the tour match at the Three Ws Oval, the tourists found batting a struggle.
"I think we, as a batting group, need to accept it's going to take a long time to score runs," Clarke said. "It's a lot different to Australia where you can go out there and cream the ball and hit plenty of boundaries. As we've seen today, once the wicket does get a little bit up and down you have to be willing to bat for long periods."
Though Watson's involvement in run-outs has become an unhappy pattern, Clarke denied it was a matter that the vice-captain needed to address as a matter of urgency, saying the run-out of Ponting was unfortunate. "It's something we'd prefer not to talk about," Clarke said. "It is a part of the game and it is unfortunate, you never mean to run anybody out. It was a big wicket, losing Ricky, but it's no one's fault. It's a part of the game, you've just got to try your best not to have it in any form of the game. It's hard enough for all the batters, especially chasing a total like that.
"Every player's different, everybody runs at different speeds and sees the game in a different light. I don't think [Watson needs to look at it], it's just unfortunate it happened today and that it was a good player in Punter [Ponting] who's had a really good summer and is in pretty good nick. His runs would've been handy out there in the first innings but what it means is, he's going to get a second chance."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala