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February 27, 2009
Fidel Edwards might not be buying Jerome Taylor a drink any time soon. They are new-ball buddies, who have made England hop around at times in this series, but in this match Taylor has not done much to help his friend out. On the opening day he dropped a top-edge off Kevin Pietersen and on the second he shelled Ravi Bopara on 4.
Edwards deserves a medal for the efforts he put in on a surface that is shaping up as another to make bowlers' hearts bleed. The run-fest in Karachi has provoked a lot of debate about batsman-friendly surfaces and, for all the pre-match hype about pace and bounce, this pitch has plenty more runs to offer over the next three days.
"It's kind of tiring coming here," a weary Edwards said. "I was hoping to get some grass and a good fast wicket to bowl on, given that in Antigua it was pretty flat. We were hoping to get some pace and we did not get it. It is one of those games where you have to be strong, keep bowling and hope for the best."
And that "best" doesn't involve dropped catches. When Edwards finally snared Bopara 100 runs after the miss - ironically with the help of a third-time-lucky Taylor - he roared a celebration at Bopara, but the huddle with his team-mates was less enthusiastic. He won't be framing his figures of 3 for 151, but they don't even tell half the story because he also watched Andrew Strauss get put down by Chris Gayle before lunch yesterday.
"Yes, it was frustrating, he went on from that to get a big hundred. He batted pretty well but it could have been a lot better for us," he said. "It's pretty hurtful but that is the way it goes. I don't think the guys go out to drop catches, but you have to take the chances and sometimes they make you pay for them. Strauss was dropped [on 58] and went on to make a big score, Bopara as well, if we had taken the chances you never know how it might have turned out."
Edwards helped produce the most captivating passage of play as he gave Bopara a real working over. He hurled himself in from the Malcolm Marshall End and pitched more in his half of the pitch than the batsman's. Bopara, for his part, was happy to play the hook which only enticed Edwards to keep banging the ball in.
"I always enjoy a good challenge, almost every ball he was playing shots, it was pretty good for him and pretty good for me too."
Whereas England supporters cross their fingers whenever Andrew Flintoff runs in, hoping that his body holds together, the West Indies fans go through a similar process with Edwards. He has problems with his ankle and his back while his unorthodox action suggests he is an injury waiting to happen.
However, in recent times he has improved his stamina. His pace remained impressive even during the latter stages of his spells, which included a nine-over burst during the morning. In the end, however, all his effort didn't come to much as his team trooped off in final session, with another match-saving task ahead of them.
They have already lost Gayle after he was given out lbw following a referral against James Anderson. He looked far from impressed as he dragged himself away from this featherbed. "I wasn't near him when he came in the dressing room," said a diplomatic Edwards. A few people might want to give Edwards a wide berth tonight as well.
Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries
The rate at which Amla has accumulated ODI hundreds and MoM awards is among the fastest in history. And his runs-per-innings figure is easily the best of the lot