November 20, 1999

India 'A' - a slow day on a slow pitch

Under absolutely wonderful weather conditions for cricket, the first "Test" match between the West Indies "A" and the visiting Indian "A" team got under way today at the Queens Park Oval, Port Of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies.

Key players from either team were passed fit at the very last minute. Jimmy Adams, the West Indies "A" team captain, a part of the West Indies senior team's batting line-up to tour New Zealand soon, and who is nursing a knee injury, passed himself fit at the last practice session the day before the game.

Dodda Ganesh, one of the very few players in India "A" team with international experience, and a useful fast bowler, was passed fit on the morning of the game. He has a thigh injury.

India "A" won the toss and elected to bat. However, while conditions overhead were excellent, the pitch was somewhat slow and the bounce variable. The outfield was also rather slow, a result of the recent rains in the Eastern Caribbean.

At lunch, India "A" were 59-1 from 27 overs, the going pretty slow. The not out batsmen were Gagan Khoda, on 38, and Sridharan Sriram, on 0. The first batsman out was Jagdish Arun Kumar, caught at short leg, off Rawl Lewis, the leg-spinner from Grenada. The batsman was besides himself with anger and it took great personal restraint for him not to destroy his bat after getting out to a poor delivery, in the 26th over, just before lunch; 58-1. The opening batsmen had done a good job for their country.

Both of the West Indies "A" team's new fast bowlers, Goldwyn Prince of the Leeward islands and Dwight Mais of Jamaica impressed on the slow pitch. They bowled at a good length, worked up some reasonable pace and also got some movement from the slow pitch. Their efforts, however, were not initially good enough to dislodge the steady, if staid, openers, Khoda and Arunkumar. The pitch was so slow, and the outfield similarly unyielding, that scoring was very difficult. In the meantime, Nixon McLean, the most experienced West Indian "A" team bowler, one who had played Test cricket, looked out of sorts and palpably out of rhythm.

Khoda had just gotten to a well-compiled 50 when he played half forward to the persevering Prince and was adjudged LBW in over 37, 79-2. Khoda had hit only three boundaries, a six off of the bowling of Rawl Lewis, almost back over the bowler's head, and two fours.

The Indian "A" team captain, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, another Indian player with some international experience, then took a painful 44 minutes and 37 balls in compiling only 5 before he tried to drive a short delivery from the Jamaican off-spinner, Chris Gayle, only to see another Jamaican, captain Jimmy Adams, dive at full length to his left at short extra-cover to take a wonderful catch; India "A" 95-3 in over 49.

That soon became 98-4 when Mais, again bowling at a full length, got a delivery to cut back into Jacob Martin, another Indian "A" player with some international experience. The ball struck the pads exactly adjacent to the middle stump; out LBW for 2 in over 52.

Tea on the first day was taken with India "A' on 108-4, with Sridharan Sriram on 19 not out and Mohammed Kaif on 6 not out.

Sriram became Lewis's second victim, and the West Indies "A"'s fifth, when he misjudged a beautifully flighted leg-break, drove at it, and Darren Ganga snapped up a sharp chance at slip. Sriram had come in at the fall of the fist wicket and had batted all of 145 minutes, facing 105 deliveries, hitting only one 4, for his 25; India"A" 116-5 in over 65.

The India "A" batsmen, Mohammed Kaif and Samir Dighe then played perhaps the most enterprising cricket of the day, so far realizing 63 runs for their very valuable sixth wicket partnership. They looked very accomplished for their 30 not out and 24 not out respectively, Dighe being the more aggressive of the two.

The West Indies "A" team fielding was quite good, but the bowling, especially that of Nixon McLean and to a lesser extent, Rawl Lewis, was somewhat disappointing. At the close of the first day of four, India "A' were 179-5 from the allotted 90 overs, with the West Indian "A" leg-spinner, Lewis, getting two of the wickets. The game continues tomorrow, Saturday 20 November.