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August 12, 2012
If the first two matches are an indication of what is to come, bowlers at the Under-19 World Cup will be queuing up to bowl at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, and bowl first. England were shot out by Australia for 143 and on that same surface India were dismissed for 166 by West Indies. Both the chases, although successful, weren't easy either.
There's been swing and seam for the quick bowlers, and once the balls got older there was turn for the spinners too. The bounce was true on the first day, and extremely high, and it was variable on the second. Unmukt Chand, India's captain, spoke of the challenges of batting on such a surface after getting sent in by West Indies.
"The pitch was seaming a lot, really difficult to bat out there. The cracks had opened up and the ball was doing quite a bit after pitching," Chand said. "It was something we were not expecting."
After one opener fell in the second over, India's focus became survival until the conditions eased out. Runs slowed to a trickle, though, and the challenge was how long Chand and Baba Aparajith could remain calm under sustained pressure from the West Indian quicks. With experience, it becomes easier to assess the conditions quickly without feeling the need to score from the get-go.
"That was the test, it was very important to stay patient and be there for as long as we could," Chand said. "The ball wasn't coming on to the bat well, and I had a difficult time batting."
Aparajith cracked first, trying to hook a bouncer from Ronsford Beaton and gloving it to the wicketkeeper. Thereafter, dismissals occurred at frequent intervals as India's batsmen were continuously tested by pace and seam movement even during the middle overs.
"Yesterday's match was played on this wicket, it was a used wicket," Chand said. "That's why the cracks had opened up. If you look at the other wicket, it's not like this. The cracks were creating a lot of problems for us. Once the ball pitched there it used to either go up or along the ground."
Chand lasted up until the 20th over, facing 61 deliveries for his 22, compiled when batting conditions were the hardest. His innings was ended by Kyle Mayers, who came on second change but sustained the pressure built by the quicks before him. Mayers' first spell was 6-0-17-1 and he finished with 2 for 35 before a match-winning 43 earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.
"My role in the team is basically to bowl tight," Mayers said. "We have a lot of allrounders, especially medium-pacers who can bat a bit. My role mainly is to bowl tight, with the bat try my best and give it my all."
West Indies used a different length to attack India, when compared to the one Australia used against England. While Australia's fast bowlers were full most of the time, with the bouncer deployed as a surprise, West Indies were mostly back of a length, pinning the Indians in their crease before delivering the fuller ball.
Roddy Estwick, the West Indies coach, said the bowlers had "responded magnificently" to the plans prepared for India, after playing them in the subcontinent in September 2011.
"Anywhere in the world, when you look at Indian batsmen, they tend not to like short bowling," Mayers said. "It was alright for the wicket, because it had lot of bounce and pace."
A fresh pitch will be used for the game between Australia and Nepal on Monday, but Craig McDermott, the former Australian fast bowler, had said he'd been told that it would be quicker and bouncier than the ones that undid both England and India.
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