A tactical nightmare

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The Independent Online
India 194-2 v West Indies

The final Test of the series ground to a tiresome tactical impasse as early as the opening day here yesterday. Needing to win to square the rubber, India took the positive option of omitting a batsman, Saurav Ganguly, for a bowler, Doddanarasiah Ganesh, but were then so intent on not wasting the advantage of the toss that they laboured to 38 for 1 off 27 overs to lunch.

When their captain, Sachin Tendulkar, threatened to accelerate at the fall of the second wicket, the West Indies, with three of their four fast bowlers incapacitated at some stage during the day, resorted to the negative and demeaning strategy of using Shivnarine Chanderpaul to bowl his flat leg breaks outside the leg stump to six fielders on the leg side for 17 consecutive overs after tea.

With accurate pace from the other end, neither Tendulkar, one of the freest scorers in the contemporary game, nor Rahul Dravid could advance at the rate India require if they are to achieve their goal of a rare overseas victory. By the close India were 194 for 2, Dravid was on 71 and Tendulkar 62.

The West Indies seemed deflated by an ideal batting pitch and by the various ailments which kept Franklyn Rose, Ian Bishop and then the captain, Courtney Walsh, in the dressing- room at various times. Their cause was also not helped by four missed chances.

Ajay Jadeja was dropped at third slip off Walsh when four, but had added only four more when he fell to catch behind off Bishop. He had spent 58 balls over his tedious eight.

The other opener, Navjot Sidhu, was missed at eight by Bishop in the gully off Rose, but then fell to Carl Hooper's sharp catch at third slip off Walsh when 36.

That brought in Tendulkar, who began with two boundaries in the same over but then presented Curtly Ambrose with a waist-high return when he was 10. The big fast bowler let it slip from his grasp. Later, the solid Dravid, who passed 1,000 runs in his 14th Test, edged Rose directly between the keeper, Courtney Browne, and the first slip, Brian Lara, who looked at each other as the ball sped between them to the boundary.

First day; India won toss

INDIA - First Innings

A D Jadeja c Browne b Bishop 8

N S Sidhu c Hooper b Walsh 36

R S Dravid not out 71

*S R Tendulkar not out 62

Extras (b3, lb5, w1, nb8) 17

Total (for 2) 194

Fall: 1-32, 2-68.

To bat: M Azharuddin, N R Mongia, A Kumble, S Joshi, D Ganesh, A Kuruvilla, B K V Prasad.

WEST INDIES: S L Campbell, S C Williams, S Chanderpaul, B C Lara, C L Hooper, R I C Holder, C O Browne, I R Bishop, C E L Ambrose, F A Rose, *C A Walsh.

Umpires: G Sharp (Eng) and E Nicholls (WI).