OK.... lets start today's article with this piece of information - out of 1805 International test matches played in the history of test match cricket till date, only 165 times the team batting first has scored more that 550 runs in the first innings and 108 times they have won the match. 54 out of those matches were drawn, 2 were lost and one was tied..!!
If we go by that statistic, this 1806th test match between India and West Indies at St. Lucia, which happens to be the second test match in the 4 match series between the two countries, India have won half the battle. Read on and I'll explain how..
Morning Session :- India team was sitting pretty at 361 for 4 wickets at the end of Day 1 and they came out with a definite mind set of keeping the run rate up to 4 runs an over. West Indies started defensively and kept fielders on the boundaries.. Result - Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Kaif started to take quick singles. They were also helped by some "very poor" and lazy fielding by West Indian and there was no stopping for Indian batsmen. Dravid completed his century, then Kaif completed his half-century and then India completed 100 runs in the first session of this second day's play and then it was Lunch.
Afternoon Session :- Rahul Dravid is having a batting average of 58.54, best among the highest test run scorers for India (Tendulkar - 55.39, Gawaskar - 51.12) and is at the 8th position in most runs in test match cricket by any batsman from any country. That is only because of his ability to play long innings and very rarely getting out cheaply. Dravid made 49 and 65 in the first test at Antigua and today he was out after making a brilliant 146. It is altogether a different case that he has been dismissed in nineties in as many as 8 occasions.
Then there was Mohammad Kaif for West Indies to handle. Kaif was down and nearly out of Indian team when he reached Caribbean but after a good start in the ODI series, he completed his first every test match century for his country and would you believe, Kaif made 148 runs, which happens to be his highest first class score as well. He had never made a score of more than 136 before this second day play of second test match at St. Lucia.
Then India lost Dhoni, then Pathan and just when the commentators started to worry about when Dravid will declare, umpires called for Tea Break. India 570 for 7.
Evening Session :- Indian think tank must have decided to make some quick runs after the tea interval, get 40-50 more runs and then ask West Indies to bat, but only in 4 over after tea, Kumble played onto his stumps and Dravid called his men back. India declared at 588 for 8 wickets.
There were 24 overs remaining in the second days play here at St. Lucia when West Indies openers came out to bat. Irfan Pathan - after sitting out of the first test and getting some tips from former West Indies great fast bowler - Any Roberts, started to try and make an impression. An Impression of much more fast bowler, which he used to be. But to tell you frankly, he rarely touched 135 km/hr mark and although bowled some good balls, didn't match the standards of fast bowling that Munaf Patel was showing from the other end.
Munaf Patel was bowling against the wind at St. Lucia which is known to be quite fast but Munaf had one thing in his favour - a patch of grass on the pitch, just outside the line of of-stump of a right handed batsman, at good length. He kept on hitting that patch again and again, and the ball just fissed past the West Indies openers. And after two missed catches in the slips, and a 10 minutes rain break, he hit that patch again to get Deren Ganga right in front of wickets. Umpire Simon Taufel raised his finger, and only after 2 more minutes, exactly the same thing happened. This time it was Ramnaresh Sarwan playing his first ball. West Indies 36 for 2.
Dravid switched to his trump card only after two overs from VRV Singh and Kumble replied with Lara's wicket. This was the third lbw decision from the umpires, this time by Asad Rauf whom West Indian crowd have started to hate as much as we Indians do to Steve Buchnor, but honestly, all of the three were right decisions and batsmen deserved to leave the field....!!
India 588 for 8 and West Indies 65 for 3. Here's the scorecard.. if you need.