West India v India, 3rd Test, St Kitts, 1st day June 22, 2006

The perfect launching pad

Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga made good use of an excellent batting pitch, putting West Indies in a strong position after the first day

Brian Lara won an important toss, and his openers didn't let him down: Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga put together their fourth century stand, and by close of play West Indies were in a position of immense strength.

The pitch was an excellent one for batting, but both batsmen, especially Gayle, were still patient enough to first gauge the pace and bounce before going for the shots. The first seven overs fetched only seven runs, but by then Gayle was comfortable enough to launch into his strokes, after which the Indians couldn't do much to curb him. Gayle was especially severe on Harbhajan Singh, whose return to the Test side was anything but impressive - his 12 overs leaked 57, of which Gayle's contribution was 30 from 22 balls. A feature of Gayle's batting was his driving down the ground in the V between mid-off and mid-on - 36 of his 83 runs came in that region.

At the other end, Ganga was solidity personified, especially against Anil Kumble, who had dismissed him twice in the two earlier Tests and was again India's best bowler. Ganga had an in-control factor of 92% against Kumble, who was desperately unlucky not to have won one of several close lbw shouts against Ramnaresh Sarwan. Sarwan finished on an unbeaten 44, but had an in-control factor of just 71% against Kumble.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo