Lara pleased with bowlers' efforts
The day and the surface demanded unglamorous qualities; some toil, some graft and liberal helpings of discipline. Happily for Brian Lara, the West Indies provided precisely that, in restricting Pakistan to below three runs an over and importantly, removing two-thirds of a heavy scoring middle-order triumvirate.
"I was very satisfied with the bowlers," Lara told reporters at the end of the day. "On such a pitch it was very tough for the bowlers and to keep them under three an over was a very good effort. We had to bowl in the right areas, keep the runs down and take any chances that came our way. We took four of the five that did and I can't fault the bowlers for their efforts."
And some mammoth efforts they were. Corey Collymore might walk under a ladder, break a mirror and let a black cat stroll across him repeatedly and he'd still have more luck than has thus far come his way on this tour. Despite beating batsmen as if it were slipping out of vogue, he has the solitary wicket to show for it and 16 overs today drew no reward but sympathy. He might try some of what Jerome Taylor is having, for though he eventually redeemed an iffy morning spell, his wickets came off wide deliveries Collymore would scoff at.
Corey Collymore might walk under a ladder, break a mirror and let a black cat stroll across him repeatedly and he'd still have more luck than has thus far come his way on this tour
Cruel to begrudge him success though, especially on a surface Lara reckoned was made for batsmen. "The pitch again is made for batting. Just one day gone and we expect, in this part of the world, for it to continue like that. There will be some deterioration of course, from bowlers' footmarks but as far as I can see it is full of runs. We're hoping on this pitch we can get some good runs."
One man who won't have the opportunity is Ramnaresh Sarwan, not included in the team for this Test to the surprise of some. Sarwan's recent form isn't prolific - 137 runs in six matches during the Champions Trophy and 112 in five DLF Cup matches - but Lara argued it was a decision based on the needs of the team. "It wasn't designed as a drop. I think it was a situation where the best team combination was chosen to get a result. We also made another change in dropping Fidel Edwards."
Two fifties in his last two Tests earlier this year in New Zealand, coupled with some ODI form, meant though that Runako Morton was a deserving replacement. "Runako has also had a couple of opportunities over the last 12-18 months and he's produced in it. Unfortunately, he found himself out of the team so he has an opportunity now. But it is just a matter of picking what we feel is the best team and Sarwan still remains one of our main players. He's only missing five days of cricket," Lara reasoned.
A couple of early morning wickets, especially of Inzamam-ul-Haq, and the labours of today may yet bear sweet fruit. Even without Sarwan, there is as much depth in this batting as there is flatness in the pitch. "Sometimes you get the results of it the following day and we have to come back and wrap up the remaining six wickets," Lara continued. "I was pretty happy with the position of the match on such a pitch and when the opportunity comes for us to bat we have to make full use of it."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo