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November 16, 2011
After subsiding meekly in the first innings, West Indies dipped in to the Bob Marley catalogue to get up and stand up the second time, progressing to 195 for 3, still 283 in arrears, by stumps. Adrian Barath and Kirk Edwards added 93 for the second wicket, preventing any repeat of the morning collapse that saw West Indies skittled out before lunch for just 153.
"We did not bat as well as we should have in the first innings," Barath said afterwards. "Basically we learnt from our mistakes in the first innings and we applied ourselves a bit more. It shows that as a team we are capable of playing spin well. I think it was just a matter of application in the first innings. The conditions were a bit difficult for the openers to bat in."
Barath said West Indies' cause wasn't helped by an early start after play had ended 50 minutes early on the second day. "The game starting at 8.30am, it's probably the first time I have ever seen that. I think it was obviously difficult for us batting that early in the morning. Usually, the warm-up starts at 8.30 and we were facing the first ball at that time. It was something new for us."
He didn't play the first Test and failed in the first innings here, and there was more than a hint of disappointment at the manner in which he was dismissed for 62 so soon after tea. "I went out there and tried my best to get West Indies off to a good start. Our objective was to go there and just apply ourselves once again. I have been away from international cricket for probably around a month. So it was important for me to get back in the groove. I am thankful for getting a half-century but I think I should have carried on and got a big one."
Barath became the youngest West Indies player to score a century in 2009 - beating George Headley's record - when he hit a stroke-filled 104 in an innings defeat at the Gabba. Things haven't been quite as easy since.
"That's something I have been trying to cope with in the past year or so where I have had good starts. Obviously it's a very frustrating period in my career after just coming into the team and getting a century on debut and not playing as consistently as I should have after that."
The learning process has been helped by the presence of Desmond Haynes - one half of West Indies' legendary opening partnership - as batting coach. "It is a privilege to have someone like Desmond Haynes as part of our team," Barath said. "Being an opening batsman it is great for me because he has the experience of playing on different pitches around the world against different opposition. It's obviously a work in progress and there is nothing he could do overnight as a batting coach."
Part of Haynes' mandate has to be to change the mindset of the West Indies batsmen, especially against spin on the slow and low pitches of the subcontinent. Barath said Haynes has told them to be positive against spin. "He was the sort of guy that took the bowlers on. He definitely dominated some of the best bowlers in the world. He always tells us that we should be positive as batsmen and not allow bowlers to get on top of us. It's all in the mind."
On the Eden Gardens pitch, chances of saving the game rest largely on Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the one individual in the batting line-up with more than 50 Test caps to his name. "He is the key player for us tomorrow. He can bat through tomorrow and make it difficult for the India bowlers and take the game into the fifth day and make them bat again. He looks very determined and he is eyeing 10,000 Test runs.
"It's important to make India bat again. It will be important tomorrow morning for [Darren] Bravo and Chanderpaul to continue. I think they just need to continue batting as long as possible and come back on the fifth day."
One man they'll have to see off to accomplish that task is Umesh Yadav, who has impressed with his wholehearted attitude and bustling pace. "I think he's bowling 90 miles an hour," Barath, who fell to him in the first innings, said. "Any bowler who can bowl at that speed is special. There are not many around who bowl at that speed. He has what it takes, and these pitches can help him develop as a player."
After a frustrating period, Barath too is eyeing the next level.
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