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By Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in St Lucia
June 9, 2006
He might have sported a Soca Warriors T-shirt, looking ahead to Trinidad & Tobago's opening clash in the football World Cup, but Brian Lara's sights were firmly on the cricket. He hoped his side could come up with a more sustained effort than they'd managed in Antigua, and urged his batsmen to take a cue from Wasim Jaffer.
"We first of all have to learn to play tough cricket, to be good enough to get a draw," he said. "It would be very difficult to go from losing in four days to winning in four days. And to play 15 sessions against India and for it to come down to the last ball, I think it shows a lot of character. It's similar to the game in Jamaica [the first one-dayer] when we lost a close game. Taking everything into consideration, we came within 90 runs of victory and actually drew the match. It means we aren't far off from the opposition and that we can turn the tables."
The batting, though, remained a cause for concern. "Our batsmen made 650 runs in the two innings without anyone getting a hundred," he continued. "So whereas it was a good solid allround show, we needed somebody to carry on like Wasim Jaffer." Jaffer was the only batsman from both sides to cross the hundred mark and went on to post his first double-century in Tests.
The fact that West Indies were forced to hang on for a draw, despite being ahead on the first two days, worried Lara. "We stayed ahead on the first two days of the Antigua Test and then lost control," he said. "These are the kind of horses who once they get ahead, wander around rather than keep their focus. This is something which Australia and some English teams do well. It's about stamina, both mental and physical, and we need to be able to hang in there for 15 sessions. Our good wins won't be the ones we win in five days; they'll be the ones we win in the final session of the fifth day. In the one-dayers, [Greg] Chappell said we had forgotten how to win but we overcame that. Tests are a bigger test of one's character and we can't afford to lose the early advantage."
Even though Dave Mohammed hardly made an impact with the ball during the first Test, Lara backed him to the core. "It's always tough for spinners against the Indian team," he said. "Mohammed's allround game was OK. He got a few wickets and batted well - he got 50-odd in the second innings. When India attacked him, in the second innings, they were in control. Spinners do get knocked about, especially back-of-the-hand spinners. He is our best spinner in the Caribbean and he needs to learn from these experiences."
Lara wasn't overly concerned about the absence of Fidel Edwards, his premier fast bowler. "We still have a formidable attack, one that we can depend on to get 20 wickets. Pedro Collins is a very good bowler and we have Jerome Taylor and Ian Bradshaw as well."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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