India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 1st day November 14, 2011

Gibson pleased with bowling effort on flat pitch


"Loose balls are the best balls sometimes," Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, said with a laugh after a day when his team's bowling was severely tested on a benign pitch and four of the five wickets to fall were gifted by the batsmen. Led by a Rahul Dravid century, India dominated the day's play before two wickets in four balls gave the visitors some hope of making significant inroads with the second new ball on Tuesday morning.

"It's always tough to play on this track at Eden Gardens," Gibson said. "History says that you usually go at an economy-rate of three an over. We are going at 3.8 an over [actually 3.95] and hopefully we can drag it down tomorrow. Our guys toiled hard. We knew it was always going to be difficult to bowl to [Virender] Sehwag early on. I'd give credit to all the guys for being at it the whole day and getting five wickets."

West Indies knew the enormity of the task in front of them within minutes of play starting, with back-of-length deliveries barely rising as high as the batsman's ribcage. There was a hint of resignation in Gibson's voice when he spoke about the conditions. "It's obviously disappointing but that has been the nature of subcontinent wickets over the years. This one hasn't spun a great deal yet. We spoke about it. Credit to Kemar Roach for coming back, bowling three very good spells and getting a wicket late in the day. Hopefully he can build on that tomorrow."

Roach was included after Ravi Rampaul fell ill on the eve of the game. Offspinner Shane Shillingford, Gibson said, was overlooked given India's level of comfort with the turning ball. "It was a tough decision. You look at the pitch and feel may be you can play two spinners. But you look at historical evidence too. Indians grew up playing spin. The extra pace of Kemar could help and it worked out quite well for us."

The biggest obstacle was Dravid, whose 119 was his sixth century in the last 12 months. "He is a class batsman and has been that way for the best part of twenty years. He has been in great form this year. I saw a statistic flash on television that he has the most [Test] runs by any batsman this year.

"With his appetite, I am sure he will score runs in Australia as well. It was obviously good to take his wicket; that lifted everyone. It's good that we don't have to see Dravid walk out tomorrow and take guard again."

That wicket also justified Darren Sammy's decision to delay the taking of the second new ball. But on a slow surface that has largely negated the potency of the pace attack, West Indian hopes of an upset victory will depend on the performance of Devendra Bishoo. At times on the opening day, that expectation appeared to weigh him down.

"It's something we have spoken about," Gibson said. "Young Bishoo has been our main spinner for ten months now and done well for us. You also have to take into account that he has been bowling to India, who are strong players of spin. Even Shane Warne didn't find it easy here. There have been times when Bishoo hasn't been able to string together as many good balls as he'd like."

Gibson remained confident that West Indies could rattle India's cage in this game, citing the batting collapse in the first innings in Delhi.

This, though, is a different sort of slow pitch, and India spinners, especially the absent Harbhajan Singh, have exploited its vagaries in the past. How West Indies fare will depend entirely on whether they can negotiate R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha better than they managed to in the opening Test.

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  • Oneil on November 15, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    gibson is ridiculos to say better use roach than shillingerford on a turning wkt cause india comfortable with spin,our pace more effective, yet with our pace we still keep losing

  • Cricket on November 15, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    @Caveman 2001 is one Test in how many? Of course there will be exceptions to the rule but I'm talking about preparing pitches where interesting exciting cricket is the rule not the exception. I'm talking about pitches where bowlers work for their wickets and and batsmen work for their runs. If flat wickets are to be prepared then 2 questions: 1. Why is Dhoni playing Sharma and Aaron on a pitch that has nothing for them? 2. Why hasn't Dhoni picked 5 bowlers? I say again this is pointless cricket and only benefits batsmen who want to improve their stats.

  • charlie on November 15, 2011, 3:27 GMT

    Why are some people talking about India gifting their wickets ? What about our guys gifting theirs ? Bravo and Baugh were perfect examples of batsmen gifting their wickets at a time when West Indies were in a position to build a much better score . Those strokes are not even played by people playing "gully-cricket " . If we had better reserves ,they would be watching from the pavilon learning how to . I don't know what has happened to these modern day players ,with all this high tech aid and yet they don't seem to learn much . I f Baugh does not bat responsibly this test ,there might be a change in the next test ,because we can't afford a keeper who can't bat responsibly .

  • Pratik on November 15, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    @ OhhhhMattyMatty: It is a shocker indeed. Until you look at the scoreline for the series and realize that a win is not a draw :)

  • sharath on November 15, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    @ OhhhhMattyMatty. are you kidding me!!! lol This is only the first day of the match with RR ~= 4. Not saying because I am an Indian but what you said is kinda hilarious with the context of the game :).

  • Pratik on November 15, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    @ itsthewayuplay: You are, perhaps, unaware of the history of Eden Gardens. That pitch had life until a decade and half back. As far as batting first and winning is concerned, one needs look no further than the 2001 test against Australia to see that there is a lot more to the matches here than just winning the toss.

  • Cricket on November 15, 2011, 0:29 GMT

    @Antriksh Saal Eden Gardens has never had anything to keep pace bowlers interested and only takes spin on day 3 or 4 onwards. So that means winning the toss gives a matchwinning advantage to the extent the team batting first piles on the runs and then bowls out the opposition cheaply after they been in the field for 2 days - it's pointless and the crowds are voting their feet. Low scoring games where batsmen have to work for their runs such as the one that's just ended between SA and Aus are what's needed to bring the crowds in. Even the possibility of Tendulkar scoring his 100th is not enough to get bums on seats. You need to understand that only Indian fans in India think that Indian pitches are competitve-they're not. Give something to all bowlers and make batsmen work for their runs otherwise don't surprised at the decline of Test cricket.

  • Hollis on November 14, 2011, 23:58 GMT

    Keep at it Windies. Once you continue playing together as a team and give your very best we will get positive results. Always difficult on these slow tracks but good that you did not let the shoulders droop under pressure. The Indians have some class batsmen so we are facing the very best. Strange that Roach didnot open the bowling with Edwards but that's Sammy's call on the day. We need to get VVS or Dhoni early and another quick wicket . Great to see the young opener get a wicket too.

  • Ian on November 14, 2011, 22:58 GMT

    @Nampally You and a few others keep saying that the dismissals of Sehwag and Gambhir were lucky for WI, but the truth is that Gambhir could have been out twice in the first over and once in the second over. The first ball he faced was edged and would have been caught by a better slip fielder. the last ball of the first over landed inches in front of the fielder, and the fifth ball of the third over was dropped. If Gambhir was really unfortunate, he wouldn't have been out there after the first ball. Let's forget this talk about luck.

  • sunil on November 14, 2011, 22:39 GMT

    haha..gibson r u for real, wat r u talkin about?...i stayed up to see fidel and roach running instead i saw sammy bowling with the new ball and sehwag batting like he is playing in the backyard!! can someone tell me y sammy took the new ball infront of roach?...smh!!

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