Baugh shows character in battle with Munaf
Sometime in the afternoon, with the clouds drifting away to reveal the peaks of the nearby hills, this match came alive. It had Carlton Baugh at the centre of the Indian storm. West Indies were in a precarious state, despite a patient hand from Darren Bravo, and were threatening to end on a sub-150 total. It was then that Baugh seized control.
Baugh is an interesting batsman. Often it appears that his skills don't match his desire. You can sense the ambition he possesses. He had to wait long for the West Indies selectors to get disillusioned with Denesh Ramdin to get his second chance and he has shown that he is hungry to grab the opportunity. "I feel confident at the moment and am looking forward to being in the team for a long time," Baugh said.
His character came to the fore during the ODIs against India, when he batted the team through a couple of tough situations, but it was in fading light on the fifth evening of the second Test that he really starred. His character shone through the bad light. West Indies were in danger of losing the match but Baugh took control with his aggression.
As he did today. He began with a slog-swept six off Harbhajan Singh but it was his battle with Munaf Patel that stood out as the contest of the day, one packed with Baugh's adrenalin, Munaf's desire, and MS Dhoni's intervention. It started right after lunch with a surprise yorker from Munaf. Baugh just about pushed his bat inside the line as the ball rushed past the off stump. A couple of deliveries later, Munaf produced a leg cutter that teased the outside edge. A dismissal looked just around the corner. It was then that Baugh seemed to have decided that offence was the way to go.
"I was just being positive against him. Munaf Patel is a good bowler and he can at times be unplayable," he said later. "But when you are on the go, you have a go at pretty much everybody. I play my game regardless of what has happened before. I don't want to be a negative player and try to push and pull. It has worked for me."
He flashed Ishant Sharma past gully before going for an on-the-up drive off Munaf in the 58th over. The ball flew again to gully and past the left of Virat Kohli. Munaf stared, Dhoni shuffled. Kohli was moved to his left. Next ball Baugh edged another drive, this time to Kohli's right. Munaf wanted more changes. Dhoni moved midwicket to cover and transferred Suresh Raina from cover to a second gully. Munaf hurled another full delivery outside off but Baugh shouldered arms. More stares from Munaf.
Baugh responded by lacing the next delivery - another full one outside off - through extra cover. Munaf wasn't pleased and in fact didn't collect the throw neatly; he just slapped it away. Anger or frustration? Take your pick. Baugh seized the opportunity to take an extra run to complete four runs. Munaf responded with a peach of a legcutter that went past the edge and a screaming bouncer that flew past the chest.
At the end of the over, Dhoni ran after Munaf, who kept walking. Dhoni said something. You wondered what the discussion could have been about. The next Munaf over offered some hints. Baugh drove one hard to covers and expertly cut the next delivery past backward point. Dhoni had had enough. He signalled Munaf to bowl straighter and moved the second gully back to midwicket. The next delivery was in line with the stumps and Baugh stabbed it for a single.
Munaf was taken off the attack and Baugh got to his fifty with a whippy flick through midwicket off Ishant Sharma. The crowd gave him a generous applause and he acknowledged the cheers with a raised bat.
""If a shot is there to be played I go through with it. I am not a person who does not do that. But I don't go hunting for it if it is not there," he said later.
Six overs later, Munaf returned from the other end and produced an uppish drive from Baugh off his second delivery. Kohli dived to his left at covers but couldn't hold on to a tough chance. A couple of overs later, with his partners deserting him, Baugh tried to hit Harbhajan for a boundary but ended up becoming his 400th Test wicket. ""He came to me after the game was called off and asked me to sign the ball with 400 on it," Baugh said.
Until that moment, Baugh had played a rumbustious knock to lift West Indies out of a hole. And had also managed to ruffle Munaf.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo