India fall to rise of Rose

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The Independent Online
A new West Indian fast bowler of familiar physical dimensions spectacularly announced himself to international cricket here yesterday morning.

Franklyn Rose, 25 years of age, 6ft 5in in height and all sinewy muscle, transformed the course of the first Test against India with a spell of fast, hostile bowling that defied a lifeless Sabina Park pitch and reduced India from the comfort of 127 for one to the insecurity of 155 for five at lunch, replying to the West Indies 427.

India's desperate position at lunch was rectified by the dogged sixth- wicket pair, who batted throughout the second session, defying everything the West Indies could confront them with, including the second new ball, taken 40 minutes before the break. The left-handed Saurav Ganguly was 42, and the right handed wicketekeeper Nayan Mongia had made 43 in their partnership of 81.

This is Rose's debut and, replacing Curtly Ambrose after 50 minutes' play, he despatched VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammed Azharuddin in the space of seven overs for 21 runs.

A native Jamaican, Rose sent the small crowd of around 5,000 into a frenzy with his unexpected exploits. Before he exploded, neither Ambrose, with 285 Test wickets against his name, nor the captain, Courtney Walsh, with 328 Test wickets, could strike a spark from the bland surface.

Rose was something else. Bounding in with the strains of reggae and calypso music behind him, he generated both pace and bounce not previously seen in the match. With a high, fluent delivery, his line and length were also impeccable and the Indian batsmen were suddenly hurrying their strokes.

He plucked out Laxman's leg stump with his sixth ball, sneaking a sharp off-cutter between bat and pad. Laxman had added 95 with Dravid, who was Rose's next victim.

But Rose's main prizes were still to come. Tendulkar looked entirely out of sorts for the 40 minutes he was at the wicket before dragging one back into his stumps with his feet stuck where they had started. Rose had similarly dismissed him in the preceding match against Jamaica and, as he had also done to Azharuddin in that game, repeated the dose. India's most experienced batsman was guilty of a reckless flat-footed drive that he edged to first slip.

Rose would have completed a five-wicket haul for the morning but Ganguly escaped when Murray dropped a low, leg-side chance from an edged glance in his last over before the break.

Rose's brief career has already had its problems. His potential was obvious from his days in Under-19 West Indies cricket and was confirmed when he made his way into the Jamaica team four seasons ago. But domestic difficulties and disagreements with the authorities led to to such disenchantment that he actually announced his retirement last season and did not play a single match for Jamaica. It was a temporary problem and he returned this year rejuvenated and keen to re-establish himself.

Injuries opened the way for a new fast bowler. Eighteen wickets in four Red Stripe Cup matches, at an average of 14 runs each, earned Rose his selection above other promising contenders. He has wasted no time in utilising the opportunity.