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Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in Jamaica
July 1, 2006
Looking back at the first day must have been tough for Rahul Dravid. He'd played what he termed "one of the most challenging innings" but seen his side fold for 200. He likened the knock to the one he'd played at Wellington in late 2002, another bitter-sweet occasion when he ground out a fine 76 in a sorry total of 161.
"It was very satisfying," he said of the effort, one where he played out 174 dot balls out of 215. "Batting in conditions like that gives you a lot of confidence, it's just a pity that I got out at the end of the day. It would have been nice to remain not out; I got a 70 against New Zealand on a first day wicket at Wellington, it gave me a lot of satisfaction. I guess when I look back on this one in terms of pure batting, this one will give me a lot of satisfaction."
Dravid was ably assisted by VVS Laxman during the first session, when they calmed the nerves with a defiant partnership, but a flurry of wickets after lunch spoilt it all. "We lost two-three wickets in the middle order and that was crucial," Dravid continued. "If we had one more partnership anywhere, we could have reached 250-260. It would have been a good score on this wicket ... It was quite difficult today, very challenging wicket, the ball was stopping and coming on. Especially in the morning it seamed a lot. Lot of shots were not in your option and they bowled very well also; they read the wicket well and bowled the right lengths.
"It's not a score we are happy with, but it is a score to fight with.... From 91 for 6 we fought well to reach 200, we've have got something on the board and it's important how we bowl now. We have the advantage of batting third and forcing the West Indies to chase a target in the fourth innings. The key really is to bowl well tomorrow."
All was well then, until Brain Lara began his media session with a statement about how it had been a "herculean effort" to get India out on the first day. Had Lara had seen a different pitch or was Hercules on a holiday? "I think the new ball was the major factor, it did do something. After you get to 40-50 overs, the likes of [Anil] Kumble didn't get into any trouble at all. The effort from the bowlers really created the position we're in. Hopefully the pitch can deteriorate again on the fourth and fifth day but I know it's going to be a hard task getting the opposition out again. We need to give ourselves enough time."
The star of the day, though, was undoubtedly Jerome Taylor. He'd taken just nine wickets in his six prior Tests but his effort today, fittingly in his home ground, showed why he's regarded so highly in these parts. "Jerome deserved his wickets today. His stats may not be that impressive but the guy is an outstanding youngster. In his very first Test match - against Sri Lanka at St Lucia - I thought very highly of him. Unfortunately he's had periodic problems with injury. If he can pass through that and come out of it you're going to see a long stint. Today he showed how much talent he has and what a great fast bowler we have in the future."
Lara confirmed that Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was hit below the left knee early in the day, was expected to bat in their first innings. He may not be able to bat at No.3 but West Indies have seven batsmen to fill in for him. After around a month of attrition, tomorrow may just be the day when the series is decided.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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