Batsmen Put India in Strong Position

On a pitch that is still offering assistance to the bowlers, India's batsmen have put their team in a strong position by the end of play on day two. Resuming on their overnight score of 226 for 3, the West Indies bowlers enjoyed minimal success as the Indian batsmen put the visitors in a strong position.

Dependable middle order batsman VVS Laxman helped put his side in this strong position of 462 for 6, reaching his third Test century in the process. "I thought right from the start of the tour I was batting well. It was just a matter of occupying the crease and once I was set I thought I won't throw it away this time."

He was helped largely in part by the young wicketkeeper, Ajay Ratra, whose position was in doubt before the start of the Test. There was much debate in the Indian camp whether to play the accomplished Ratra behind the stumps, or return to the less accomplished Deep Dasgupta in favour of his batting. But, the Indians must be relishing their decision to include Ratra as he has shared in an unbroken 205 runs partnership with VVS Laxman, his personal contribution being 93 not out.

Laxman, though disappointed with his own performances during the first two Test matches when he got 69 and 74, said that those innings gave him confidence to get a big score.

Commenting on the Indians approach on day day, Laxman said: "The most important thing was to occupy the crease and play because the situation we were in the morning demanded me and Ajay to preserve our wickets, because we had lost early wickets in the morning. The situation demanded that we play such innings." Questioned about the West Indian bowling, Laxman said: "I also thought they bowled well, good line and length, not giving us easy deliveries to score."

Speaking about his own performance, Laxman said he was seeing the ball much better later and, "I though I'll go for it because we had to add quick runs. So I thought I'll play more positively. I always enjoy playing the hook shot and the pull shot but it depends on the situation and the wicket." Laxman continued: "Any century is very important. This is my third and all of them have been good. It was always my dream of scoring a hundred in the West Indies and I'm really thrilled that I achieved it."

Commenting on his partner's contribution at the other end, Laxman said: "I have played with and against Ajay in domestic cricket for the last two years and I knew that he has tremendous talent and at the same time he's very gutsy and very confident. So I had a lot of confidence in his ability to score." He said that Ratra's innings was: "Very determined and gutsy knock, very positive at the same time because he not only held up an end but played positive cricket and I'm very impressed."

On the question of the pitch, Laxman feels that it is "the kind of wicket where you watch out in the beginning, occupy the crease and runs will automatically flow." The Indian middle order batsman is equally confident in the remainder of the lower order to produce. "All the guys in the tail are really talented and they're capable of performing at the highest level. Zaheer showed it in the last game, Anil has proved it so many times. I have no doubts at all that they can bat and contribute valuable runs."

As to his team's strategy going into day three, Laxman said: "The think-tank is going to get together and work out a strategy for tomorrow. Obviosuly we'll try to bowl them out twice, take a big first innings lead and put a lot of pressure on them."