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Youth makes up for lack of experience

Veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul's absence on Tuesday not only made the inexperienced West Indies batting line-up cautious, it left them more determined on the opening day of the third Test. Amol Karhadkar reports.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2011 00:33 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar

Often, a person's worth is felt in his absence. But sports doesn't always follow the laws of this world.

Veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul's absence on Tuesday not only made the inexperienced West Indies batting line-up cautious, it left them more determined on the opening day of the third Test.

In the last two decades, Chanderpaul has, on several occasions, been the nemesis of India's bowlers. Despite being on the wrong side of the 30s, the unorthodox left-handed batsman hasn't lost the hunger for runs, as was evident during the century at New Delhi in the opening Test.

When the 37-year-old could not recover in time from a calf strain, India's hopes of completing a whitewash went up.

In this light, Darren Sammy's decision to bat first was a bold one. The odds were stacked against the batsmen. Compared to Chanderpaul 9,709 Test runs, the XI named for the match had a combined tally of 5,767 runs.

Moreover, the top-six batsmen were so short on experience that their combined Test caps were slightly more than half of Chanderpaul's Test outings.

Coming into the match, Adrian Barath (12), Kraigg Brathwaite (5), Kirk Edwards (5), Darren Bravo (12), Kieran Powell (3) and Marlon Samuels (36) had played 73 Tests put together in comparison to Chanderpaul's 137.

So did Chanderpaul's absence made the Windies change their tactics? "Not that much," said Brathwaite after scoring 68. "Obviously he is a world-class player, but as batsmen we know what we have to do and we tried doing that."

It seems they succeeded in their endeavour with all the four batsmen scoring fifties. Barath and Brathwaite's 137-run association for the first wicket was as vital as the unbeaten 117-run stand for the third wicket between Edwards and Bravo.

Patience the key
"As openers, Barath and I decided to get through the first hour without losing a wicket. We did that and from there on, we pressed on and got a 50-partnership and then a 100," said Brathwaite after registering his personal best in a short career.

If Brathwaite displayed patience, Barath curbed his natural instincts of going for shots to deprive India of a breakthrough for almost two sessions.

Bravo and Edwards then capitalised on a tiring bowling attack to accelerate the scoring in the last session. Of course, they were helped by India's sloppy catching behind the stumps. If the overnight duo shows the same guts on Wednesday, the Windies will be in a position to put India under pressure.