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Butter-fingered India spoilt St Lucia show

It was not rain that did not allow India a thumping win, writes Rajneesh Gupta.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 15:33 IST

It was not rain and bad weather that did not allow India a thumping victory in the Gros Islet Test. It was not even the indifferent form of Irfan Pathan and VRV Singh that left India playing virtually with just three bowlers on the final day.

If India could not win the Gros Islet Test despite having more than 101 overs at their disposal on a fifth day wicket with Kumble, Sehwag and Munaf causing all kinds of problems to the batsmen - Kumble with his nagging accuracy, Sehwag with his vicious turn and Patel with his pace and swing, then the blame must go to buttered-fingered fielders.

There is an old saying that more the things change more they remain the same. This is enormously true when applied on Indian team. Indians somehow do not bother to learn from their past mistakes and this is precisely what cost them a victory in the Gros Islet Test.

As we have seen in the series against England at home, where India gave the Mumbai Test on a platter to the visitors, dropping catches one after the other. The series against West Indies is no different either. In first two Tests, Indians have missed no less than 13 chances - five in the first Test and eight in the second Test.

If Mohammad Kaif blew India's chances of a remarkable victory at St. John's when he failed to hold on a difficult chance of Edwards at forward short leg, Yuvraj Singh went one step further on the fifth and final day dropping Lara twice in successive overs.

Lara had then made only 70 and 71 respectively. Lara then went on to make a fighting 120 - adding 50 precious runs. More than the number of runs scored, what hurt India more was the number of balls consumed by him.

After getting the first let-off, Lara played another 102 balls before he was dismissed by Sehwag. Similarly Bravo got a reprieve from Kaif when he had made 39. Though Bravo could add only 8 more runs to his tally, he consumed another 25 balls.

Skipper Rahul Dravid then blew away the slim chances of Indian victory by dropping Ramdin off Munaf Patel at second slip when the lanky paceman bowled his heart out in an inspired spell.

All in all West Indies batsmen batted for 140 balls more after getting these reprieves on the final day - a further stay of 23.2 overs at the wicket !

In the first innings also India had missed four chances to dismiss West Indian batsmen but they did not hurt as much for two reasons- firstly there was ample time for India to get another opportunity to nail them and secondly West Indian batsmen did not make most of these reprieves, staying for 15.1 overs more. However, on the fifth day, when time was the most crucial factor, India suffered a lot.

The following table lists the details of missed chances by Indians in the Gros Islet Test:

InnBatsmanFielderPositionBowlerBatsman's score at the time of dropRuns added after the dropBalls played at the time of dropBalls consumed after the drop
1stGangaLaxmanSecond slipPatel1062013
1stChanderpaulDhoniKeeperKumble2283445
1stTaylorSehwagC&BSehwag7162511
1stBradshawDhoni#KeeperSehwag200572
2ndLaraYuvrajSecond slipSehwag7050205102
2ndLaraYuvrajShort-legKumble71   
2ndBravoKaifShort-legKumble3989925
2ndRamadinDravidSecond slipPatel136*4913



# stumping chance
* remained unbeaten

Note : The first instance in the list was in fact not a drop, but a catch no one was interested in! The ball went between Laxman at second slip and Jaffer at third slip with neither of the two even moved. This has been shown against Laxman's name since it was he who was in a better position to take that catch as the ball was towards his right.

It is intriguing to see both Yuvraj and Kaif in the above list dropping catches at forward short leg. One fails to understand what they were doing at this position in the first place.

Now these two are the thought to be best Indian fielders at Point and Cover, but fielding at bat-pad position is entirely different from fielding at Point or Cover or for that matter at any other position.

While Kaif and Yuvraj are brilliant at Point or Cover or for that matter in the the outfield also, they are only a shadow of the electrifying fielders when stationed at close range. By nature they are restless and fidgety and it is extremely hard for them to keep still when the bowler delivers the ball.

Now the hallmark of a close in fielder is to remain focussed and still for as long as is possible.

It is not long time ago we saw Akash Chopra and Gautam Gambhir taking some stunning catches at bat-pad position. Now with both of them out of the team and out of the flavour, there is not even a specialist fielder to stand in at this position.

This is where coach Greg Chappell and support staff has failed miserably. Instead of grooming some one for this position they have taken the easiest escape route. Placing Kaif and Yuvraj in turn at short-leg seems to be a strategy on team management's part, which has backfired completely.

The result: one loss and two draws in last three Tests, which India should have won quite comfortably.

First Published: Jun 17, 2006 10:02 IST