ICL: Indian Cricket League


No time to party for India

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Green makes Lara smile; Dravid & Co. weighing balanced options

“Thanks, buddy,” said Brian Lara, looking up from the green patch on the St. Lucia pitch to its curator, a smile on his face. For Kent Craston, the man behind the surface, those two words made his day. “You heard what he said,” he beamed later, making it clear which way the track will swing in the first round of the second Test.

Six hours later, Lara’s men were having a ball, their feet swinging, hands waving, some virtually thrusting their way into the spotlight. Chris Gayle made the opening move and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo jumped in before wrist-spinner Dave Mohammed came up with some stunning hip action.

The Indians had left the sponsor’s party long ago, much before the band got going, after a few bites of shrimp, some chicken and a lot of polite smiles. But not before coach Greg Chappell spent some serious time near the dominoes table at one corner, silent, watching the contestants line up the numbers.

In the morning, hours before selector V B Chandrashekhar joined the caravan, he had lined up his top six batsmen at the Beausejour stadium to drill for maintaining balance while reaching for the ball.

More than the gathering rain clouds and the promise of some early juice on the wicket, it would the batting “mistakes of the last match” that would be worrying Team India.

During the classic Antigua draw, Virender Sehwag was well set before playing half-forward outside the off stump, Wasim Jaffer had hung his bat out in the first innings, VVS Laxman didn’t reach out enough and Yuvraj Singh couldn’t keep his cover drive down on the crucial third day.

“It’s something that we have discussed,” said Dravid, “foot movement, balance. We keep working on them.”

It’s a bit of a dominoes thing on the bowling front, too. Once again, will India go with five or four? Kaif’s unbeaten 46 in the second innings of Antigua may have booked his seat here, which means it could be a four-bowler combination. And with Sreesanth out, Irfan Pathan may finally walk out of the intensive care unit.

Now, the second riddle: will India stick to three seamers and Anil Kumble, as coach Greg Chappell hinted today, or swap VRV Singh for an off-spinner?

Despite all that green, the Beausejour pitch is expected to slow down as the match wears on. And here’s where you may come across a little surprise: Ramesh Powar. For, Harbhajan Singh has been hit by a “stiff groin” - he sat out for most of the practice session - and has been put on hold till tomorrow.

The one other factor is the surge of confidence that the team is riding on after Antigua.

And that, Dravid hopes, will keep India afloat in this beautiful island nation.

Source:India Sports

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