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An improved performance from the Windies

West Indies put on a much improved performance in the second Test of the Seagrams Royal Stag Cup at the Sabina Park Stadium in Jamaica. In the rain affected Test match the West Indies team looked down and out of the game at the end of Day three after India piled on 500 runs giving themselves a lead of 308. Continuous rain fall on Day four and a dismal top order batting performance continued West Indies torrid time in Jamaica ending the shortened day on 45 for 4 and India looking to wrap up the game easily on day five. An impressive batting display from the West Indies team was enough to save the game and earn a draw. The West Indies lost only two wickets in the day’s play scoring 345 runs.

The top order batting was poor. Both openers struggled to get going. Rajendra Chandrika’s problems continued once again and he struggled terribly in both innings failing to get past five runs. Chandrika has been replaced for the third Test in St Lucia as the selectors are keen to try other options at the top of the order. Kraigg Brathwaite had a tough week at the office, struggling to score in the first innings before he got a start in the second innings scoring a patient 23 before he was dismissed.

Jermaine Blackwood recovered from the ignominy of a ‘pair’ in the first Test to make two half-centuries.

Jermaine Blackwood recovered from the ignominy of a ‘pair’ in the first Test to make two half-centuries.

Senior players Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels once again were disappointing. Bravo’s struggles against short bowling and the swinging ball continued and the Indians exploited his weaknesses. Much more is expected from Bravo and his inconsistency at the top is making it harder on the lower order batsman. Suggestions have been made for Bravo to be pushed down the batting order to see if he can improve on his performance since the new ball seems to be a major bother.

Samuels in what could be his last Test series continues to struggle for form. Samuels has not looked impressive all series, playing the occasional classy shot but looks more vulnerable than ever. Much more is needed from Samuels if the team is to compete on a more consistent basis for the remainder of the series. Both Samuels and Bravo are due big scores but with the series ending quickly with two more matches remaining and the selectors willing to try new combinations both batsmen need to get scoring before they are left out of the squad.

After receiving a pair in the first Test match Jermaine Blackwood returned to score two impressive half centuries in the second Test against India. Blackwood was one of the middle-order bright sparks for the team, leading the way with his attacking style of play going after the India bowling with ease.

The West Indian batsmen struggled in the first Test to put on partnerships and there was much improvement this time around with the team putting on four partnerships over 50 and two partnerships worth a 100- plus.

New faces in the West Indies team Shane Dowrich and Roston Chase led the West Indian batting resistance on the last day of the match. The two Barbadian batsmen put on a solid stand of 144 before Dowrich was erroneously given out. He scored a polished 74 and was constantly busy at the crease and not giving the Indian bowlers an opportunity to settle. The two players did not allow the bowling to get the better of them. They attacked when they had to and defended their wickets when they needed to but never allowed the Indian bowling to dominate as had occurred in the first Test. Former Indian Test cricketer, now commentator,  Sanjay Manjrekar, compared to Chase to a batsman of the 1970s and 1980s because of his organisation and composure at the crease.  Chase scored 137 not out for his first international century.

Captain Jason Holder played an excellent innings with the bat. Together he and Chase put on a partnership of 103 to seal the draw for the West Indies. Holder led from the front and batted smartly to ensure that his side easily crossed the finish line.

In the bowling department, the bowlers lacked penetration. Shannon Gabriel was fast but he was very unlucky, with a few edges not carrying to slip fielders. His pace caused discomfort for the Indian batsman but his back-up was limited allowing them to see him off easily and later to score freely. Gabriel was not afraid to bowl short to the Indians, banging in the ball at will making them uncomfortable on many occasions. Miguel Cummins, on debut, gave a satisfactory performance. He went wicketless but much could be taken from his bowling effort to show that he is not out of place at Test level. Cummins picked up a hamstring injury while bowling so he will be a doubtful starter for the third Test in St Lucia.

Captain Holder continued with his accuracy, bowling tightly throughout the innings. Though he managed to pick up only one wicket, Holder was very impressive. On Day three Holder bowled nine straight overs during one spell which somewhat symbolised the resurgence of the West Indies team. They picked up wickets regularly after that period to build up the team’s confidence and end the match on a high on Day five.

All-rounder Roston Chase was the best bowler for the team taking five wickets. Chase’s off-spin wreaked havoc on the Indian batting. Chase made history being the first West Indian cricketer since Sir Garfield Sobers to score a century and pick up five wickets in a Test match.

Frontline spinner Devendra Bishoo did not enjoy as good a game as in the first Test. He was tight and consistent but wasn’t able to pick up wickets as he would’ve liked. Bishoo continues to be a key member of the team and improvement in his bowling will make the attack that much more potent.

For the third Test the West Indies are expected to make at least two changes to the squad. Chandrika is out and Miguel Cummins is unlikely to play due to hamstring injury, although he remains in the squad. This will make room for the likes of Shai Hope, Leon Johnson and Alzarri Joseph. Carlos Brathwaite should also be considered for a return to the squad for the St Lucia Test.

Player ratings – second Test

1. Kraigg Brathwaite – 3  Needs runs to flow and is due a big score.

2. Rajendra Chandrika – 1 Continues to fail, and seems out of his depth at Test level.

3. Darren Bravo – 2 Rough game, continues to struggle against the new ball.

4. Marlon Samuels -3 Much more is expected from him. Needs to appreciate what “senior batsman” entails.

5. Jermaine Blackwood – 7 Two well played half-centuries, played positively against the Indian bowlers, needs to stick around a bit longer at the crease for the big score though.

6. Roston Chase – 9 Brilliant all-round performance, scoring first international century and picking up a five-wicket haul.

7. Shane Dowrich -7 Continues to play well and confidently. A hard-fought half century and very impressive behind the stumps.

8. Jason Holder- 6 Leads from the front and showed his batting and bowling abilities. More wickets needed though.

9. Miguel Cummins (debut) – 3 A decent but unspectacular debut.

10. Devendra Bishoo – 4 Failed to collect wickets regularly and test the Indian batsman.

11. Shannon Gabriel – 4  Showed good pace with the new ball but needs to get more wickets.

Source: (SC)

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