With two ends named after Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh, Sabina Park is testimony to the fast and furious bowling attacks West Indies once enjoyed. Over time though the pitch has slowed down to such an extent that visiting teams have had no problems winning here.
Between 2005 and now, West Indies have won two and lost six of the eight Tests played here. India have won two of them. All that might change if Sabina Park curator Michael Hylton walks the talk of ‘getting there’ in terms of a lively pitch. “Grass is important. I will leave a lot of grass on the pitch. And there is hard concrete underneath it. So expect bounce and pace,” he said.
Having already played on an Antigua pitch that had bounce, India are not doing anything different for the second Test starting on Saturday. “If we see the first Test, there was good pace and bounce. And we did well. We just need to continue doing what we have been doing well, and there have been many partnerships from the last game. That’s a positive sign,” said Cheteshwar Pujara on Thursday.
IN THE ZONE
India are preparing for each Test in their own way. They don’t exhaust themselves in the build-up to the Test. Rather, alternate days of optional practice, as on Thursday, is a way to keep the team in good shape. There are some players who wouldn’t miss even an optional practice though, like Ajinkya Rahane or Pujara. “I just wanted to practice a little more since I didn’t score runs in the first Test. I am the kind of player who likes to work hard; whenever there is an option to practice I prefer to practice,” said Pujara.
When not polishing their batting, Rahane, Pujara and KL Rahul were seen spending considerable time taking slip catches. If this pitch is going to be anywhere near what the curator has promised, the slips could once again be called to duty like in Antigua, where they hardly dropped anything in the cordon. Out of 20 West Indies wickets in Antigua, 10 were effected behind the stumps. And it seems Pujara has figured out what can make them a solid fielding side in that area.
“When you are fielding in slips it is important to take as many catches as possible. When you are practicing at the same time you need to know your partners well because when you are fielding at first or second slip you need to have the right distance in between. It is always about communicating, and once you have the right judgement and you have taken the right number of catches, you learn many things,” said Pujara.