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June 4, 2006
Greg Chappell has defended India's selection for the first Test in Antigua by saying that Harbhajan Singh would have been a luxury and Irfan Pathan needed a break.
India opted for a four-man attack comprising Sreesanth, VRV Singh, Munaf Patel and Anil Kumble. Singh was making his debut, and Sreesanth and Munaf had played just two Tests apiece depriving Rahul Dravid of valuable experience.
"We couldn't afford to play Harbhajan under the conditions," Chappell told AFP. "We felt that we needed three pace bowlers. There wasn't a place for a second spin bowler. We knew that Virender Sehwag could do a job if required, and I thought that he bowled very well."
Sehwag took the wickets of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo as West Indies finished the second day on 316 for 6. Sreesanth, however, conceded 82 runs off 13 overs while Singh, who struggled to find any sort of rhythm, made amends by snaring two wickets on the third morning.
Chappell said that Pathan understood why he wasn't playing the Test. "He [Pathan] appreciates this, and I think probably the break will do him good," said Chappell. "It wouldn't have been good for him to come out and bowl badly, and suffer a bigger dent to his confidence. It was thought he should regroup and come back as I am sure he will. I am confident he will play in this series at some stage or the other, but under the conditions we felt that the other options were the better ones."
Chappell justified India's opting to bat first. "I think conditions weren't easy for batting on Friday. We decided when we won the toss to bat first. In hindsight that may not have been the ideal thing to do, but I think it was important that we did it, and we tried to take control of the game. West Indies bowled pretty well. I thought our guys under the circumstances didn't play badly, but maybe 300 was probably a more likely score under the conditions," he said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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