Narsingh Deonarine's innings of 41 was the only highlight for the West Indies © Getty Images
Of all the West Indians that batted against India in the second game of the IOC tri-series in Dambulla, Narsingh Deonarine's innings was the longest. But apart from the balls faced and the time taken, more impressive was his patience to hang in there. Unfortunately for him, he failed to hang in there long enough to see his team reach a respectable total. The West Indies made a paltry 178, a total India chased successfully with few alarms. The one plus point for Deonarine was this was his first one-day international appearance.
"It was [a] good beginning to my [ODI] career but it was not good enough for the team", was Deonarine's explanation after the nets session on the eve of the team's second game against Sri Lanka.
He walked in when his side were in a weak position at 22 for 2, desperately needing someone to hang in there. Expecting such defiance from a debutant was too much. But the 21 year old, from Berbice in Guyana, who had started playing cricket at the age of 11, showed he could deal with pressure. "To remain calm and patient is how I deal with pressure," says Deonarine, who has also played four Tests in his short career so far.
Having led the West Indies in the Under-19 World Cup in 2002, he was aware of the responsibilities thrust upon him. But with the Indians holding a tight leash on the Windies run-rate, he was getting desperate. "It wasn't a good situation because we had lost early wickets and I had to rebuild the innings. Possibly if I had stayed longer we [would have] ended with a bigger total."
The good thing is Deonarine understands his role perfectly, and is clear about what he needs to do in any given situation. He received his first cricketing lessons from Veman Walters, who was his coach at Albion Cricket Club. Walters, who has been his mentor, stressed on the young Deonarine the importance of physical fitness. Today, Deonarine is happy that he was made aware of this aspect at an early age. "Being fit [also] helps you stay mentally tougher."
Deonarine, batted at No.4 instead of his usual number three position, but is flexible enough to bat anywhere. "I have usually batted at three but at times I have batted from positions four to six or seven, so that's not an issue," he said. Deonarine first came to prominence when he scored an unbeaten 141 in the game between Carib Beer XI and the visiting Australians, in 2003. And though that made people aware of his talents, Deonarine is aware of the need for consistency. "One thing I learned after my debut game yesterday was I shouldn't be repeating the bad things."

Nagraj Gollapudi is sub-editor of Wisden Asia Cricket