Ottis Gibson rues another batting failure
A comment from Suresh Raina explained West Indies' batting effort on the second day. "There were 15 balls in between where I didn't score," Raina had said at the end of the first day, after he played an innings that rescued India. "I told myself just hang in there. Be patient." He did that and played a fine hand, West Indies didn't and slipped.
For batsmen from the previous decade, 15 scoreless deliveries wouldn't have triggered much self-motivating talk. It wouldn't have invoked words like "hang in there". It's a new world these days. Patience is thin and concentration levels can sag too quickly. West Indies are a perfect example of that problem.
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, nailed it when he said, "Batting has been our real problem. We play six batsmen and they are preparing hard for the game but it's about going out there and having the mindset to bat for a long period of time." They haven't done it for a while now. "We managed to get 20 wickets to win a Test match against Pakistan but we haven't been able to put [up] big scores."
For West Indies, another factor has been the lack of match practice for cricketers. Batsmen like Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendon Nash hadn't played many practice games before this Test. Nash had three practice sessions and went straight into this Test. Gibson said it's the system at fault. "It's very challenging. We are not like England who have long county season. They play cricket five months. We are not that fortunate. You make a good point about Shiv and the amount of cricket. We have the High Performance Centre and stuff like that. People are playing club cricket. We are just trying to give people a lot more opportunities to keep their game in shape."
Adrian Barath hit a fighting fifty on his comeback but no one else coped with the pitch and the attack. "The surface was disappointing," Gibson said. "It seems to be that the surface continues to favour the opposition more than us."
Yet, when India were 85 for 6, West Indies had a great chance to pull down the blinds on the visitors. Perhaps they missed the firepower of Kemar Roach. "In the recent past Kemar has been keeping out Fidel who was our best bowler in the last 4-5 years. Selectors decided that we want to be aggressive against Indian players; they believe Fidel showed more aggression than Kemar and they went for it. And he justified that selection by bowling well and hostile."
Edwards has done that. Today offered more proof. The final over of the day made for a fascinating viewing experience. Edwards bounced, Virat Kohli hopped. Edwards bounced again. Kohli hopped again. One ball flew off the shoulder of the bat, another screamed over his head, and yet another reared over the shoulder. Rahul Dravid repeatedly walked down the track to have a chat with Kohli. Edwards stared. There was aggression in the air.
That aggression was missing on the afternoon of the first day when Raina and Harbhajan Singh got away. The concern for many, though, is not the presence of Edwards, but that of captain Darren Sammy, in the Test line-up. Gibson didn't hide his irritation when that question came up again. "It's becoming a little annoying that people talk about Sammy all the time. He keeps taking wickets; he is not getting runs. I would like him to make runs but he certainly does a great job for the team with the ball. Hopefully, people will start focussing about something else apart from Sammy not bowling at 100 mph."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo