The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin stood between us and victory: Hooper
- WI skipper defends fielding four pacers

Calcutta: No one gave them a chance before the final Test of the series. All the focus was on whether the Indians will manage to script a rare 3-0 whitewash.

The calculations, however, went haywire as the Caribbeans had the hosts struggling momentarily during the course of the match. In the end, Carl Hooper admitted that it was Sachin Tendulkar who stood between them and a victory.

“Sachin is a world class player. Had we got him out, it would have been a different game,” Hooper rued after the match.

“A draw is obviously better than being beaten 3-0. But, at the end of the day, we look at the whole series and realise that we haven’t played to our potential. That is disturbing and we need to address it immediately,” the West Indian skipper added.

For Hooper, the most disappointing bit was their failure to find a breakthrough on the final morning. Sachin and V.V.S. Laxman put on a record 214 runs in a crucial fifth wicket stand to force a draw.

“We realised that both Sachin and Laxman would be most vulnerable in the first hour and needed to break their partnership. That wasn’t forthcoming. A bit disappointing, but don’t think there has been any lack of effort.

“Laxman played a supporting role as Sachin counterattacked from the other end. You always thought that somewhere down the line you would get a chance but we never got one till he was 160,” Hooper lamented.

However, unlike the other two Tests, there were some positives for the visitors. “The batting was good. We have been stressing on youngsters getting three figures and in this Test we’ve had two of them coming out well. That’s important.

“All three hundreds were important and I don’t want to single out any one for special mention. But Samuels’ knock was good. He has responded very well coming in at No. 6 and definitely looks good for the future.”

Hooper said that the four-man pace attack made a difference. “We played four fast bowlers and that’s how we came the closest to winning a Test.

“We played two spinners in the last two Tests and got beaten in three-and-a-half days. So most of our success, against India, has been with four fast bowlers. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learnt there.”

How did he find Harbhajan Singh' “He proved that he can get wickets in India. The same Harbhajan we played back home and he did not look half as threatening. It’s too early to judge but he bowls well here,” was Hooper’s analysis of the Man of the Series.

An improvement

He seemed satisfied with the improvement in their fielding, an area that had him worried prior to this Test. “A couple of difficult chances went down Sunday. In the previous two Tests I saw sitters going down.

“I think catches will be dropped but, it depends how difficult it is. From the catches dropped in Mumbai and Chennai, some should have been taken. I had basically stressed on straightforward catches to be taken.”

He felt there were areas that needed immediate attention. “I don’t think there is just one area. It’s the basics really. All three aspects of the game need to be looked into for performing overseas.”

He did not wish to comment on Sachin and Zaheer Khan’s unavailability for the one-day series. “Nothing really important. We have to make sure we put seven good games together,” stressed Hooper.

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