Sunday was supposed to be the fifth day of the first Test at the Eden Gardens, but the West Indies team — minus Chris Gayle — sweated it out for a little over three hours at the Wankhede Stadium.
The team’s early arrival here for the second Test hurried things a bit in matters of organisation, but thankfully the practice pitches and outfield were in good condition for the players to go through their warm-up and practice sessions without a hitch. The team physio also used the opportunity to run fitness tests on some players, including Shane Shillingford.
On their part the players did not show the slightest hint of being embarrassed by the capitulation last Friday, but coach Ottis Gibson said that there is no substitute for hard work and that his team needs to spend quality time in the middle in order to put up big scores in the first innings.
“We showed glimpses of what we are capable of in Kolkata, but not for sustained periods. We did not bat long enough. We have to bat for three days in Indian conditions. We cannot be getting out in 78 and 54 overs. We have to make 400 plus runs; 234 was pretty average. We were a little bit rusty coming in but we cannot use that as an excuse.”
Gibson pointed out the strong position his team was in at lunch on the first day at 138 for two before it lost way and when Shillingford reduced India to 83 for five.
“It is a bit disappointing (to slip from good situations). We are a much more experienced team now. When you look at the result, you sort of tend to think that way (playing only five batsmen was wrong). But this line-up was the one that won us the last 3-4 Test matches. So we backed the guys. They did not perform as well as they ought to have. We have to look at the combination we have to choose for the second Test. We still believe we can win here. We have to get better and learn from the mistakes made and try not to repeat them.”
Seamer Mohammad Shami worked wonders with reverse swing, but Gibson does not believe that the peculiar swing aspect caused his team’s downfall. “Here was a new bowler (Mohammad Shami) we did not know much about. He bowled with high skill. He was very accurate, got the ball to swing. We can do the same thing and we can reverse swing. Tino Best can reverse swing the ball at high pace. Sheldon Cottrell can also reverse swing. It’s just that we did not execute it very well. I don’t think the pitch here would be as abrasive as the one in Kolkata. I am not sure if reverse swing will play much of a role here. We have batsmen who have faced reverse swing before and got runs; Gayle, Chanderpaul, Samuels have all faced reverse swing before but they had not faced Shami before. So it is Shami we will have to get used to.”
The visitor has been affected by the absence of fast bowler Kemar Roach who has been ruled out of the series and replaced by Shannon Gabriel. “When we came here we did not know the severity of Kemar’s shoulder injury. He has been one of our key Test match bowlers in the last two years.”
Talking of Shillingford the West Indies coach said: “He is a quality bowler. He spins a bit, can make it turn both ways and can be handful for anybody on any surface. If pitches have anything for Ashwin and Ojha, then Shane will also benefit and that is a plus for us. He is a little bit sore but we have a good medical staff to look after him and get him back on the park for the next Test.’’