The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Holding all praise for sporting pitch

Calcutta: It’s advantage West Indies for the first time in the three-match Test series. Opinion is divided over the nature of the pitch, though there is no question mark over the application showed by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels.

“Both Chanderpaul and Samuels played with character and determination and helped the team take a healthy lead. It’s a platform from where India will find it tough to beat the West Indies,” former West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding said Friday.

Holding felt the new wicket at Eden Gardens had a lot to do with the Caribbeans’ sterling performance on Day III of the final Test.

Fellow TV commentator Danny Morrison agreed the pitch played a part in the West Indian fightback, though Maninder Singh felt it was a difficult wicket to bat on.

“The pitches in Mumbai and Chennai were not appropriate for Test matches. But for the first time, we have a sporting wicket here. And that definitely played a part in the West Indies’ performance,” felt the towering Caribbean quick of yesteryears.

Holding, however, refused to speculate on the fate of the match. “There are still two days to go and anything can happen.”

Maninder, meanwhile, felt a three-figure lead on Saturday is bound to weigh heavily on the Indian psyche. “India need to strike back as quickly as possible and that’s why tomorrow’s first hour is now so important. If, at least, India can manage to expose the West Indies tail, they will still have a chance. Otherwise…”

For the record, the West Indies finished the third day at 446 for five. India made 358 in their first innings which means the visitors have already taken a lead of 88 runs.

The former left-arm spinner maintained that the pitch has slowed down considerably and demanded “a lot of concentration and patience” from the batsmen. “A slow pitch is not an easy one to bat on.

“But Chanderpaul and Samuels played close to their body and according to a plan. They just concentrated on the job at hand and in the end helped the West Indies reach a good position in the game,” Maninder said.

Morrison also described the slow turn of the pitch as a significant factor behind the Caribbeans’ show on Day III.

“The West Indies batsmen played within limitations. Chanderpaul’s innings (unbeaten on 136), in particular, was a fine blend of caution and aggression. And with the pitch behaving normally, they have a reasonable chance to extend the lead”, observed the former New Zealand fast bowler.

Prabir Mukherjee, East Zone head of the BCCI pitch committee, however, blamed the Indian bowlers for a wayward show. “A Test match is what is played over five days and this pitch offers such an opportunity”.

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