Brathwaite wants pace at the Oval in 2nd India Test

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

India’s Virat Kohli eyes the ball after playing a shot off of the bowling of West Indies’ Jomel Warrican on day three of their first Test at Windsor Park in Roseau, Dominica, on Friday. – AP PHOTO

West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite is hoping for a greener, more pace-friendly pitch at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad as the home team aim to bounce back in the second and final Test match against India on Thursday.

With Dominica’s spin-friendly pitch favouring the Indian squad – which was pivotal in their demolition of the maroon inside three days – Brathwaite is looking forward to better bowling conditions in Trinidad to amplify their chances of a possible series tie.

He was critical of his batsmen, particularly himself as an opener, as they collectively – minus Test debutant Alick Athanze – failed to fire with the bat.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, West Indies were bundled out for a shameful 150 in the first innings, led by Athanaze’s 47, and restricted by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin’s 5/60 and leg-spinner Ravindra Jade’s 3/26.

India responded in style and posted 421/5 declared, with another Test debutant Yashasvi Jaiswal (171) and skipper Rohit Sharma (103) leading the charge with a brazen opening stance of 229 runs and a lead of 271.

West Indies, in reply, were worse than their first innings and were easily removed for a paltry 130, with Athanaze (28) showing the most resistance.

Again, Ashwin (7/71) and Jadeja (2/38) shone with the ball.

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin (L) reacts after bowling against West Indies on day three of their first Test at Windsor Park in Roseau, Dominica, on Friday. – AP PHOTO

When asked about the pitch conditions working against the hosts, Brathwaite said, “I was obviously a bit surprised but I think we can’t control that. Unfortunately, India coming to a spinning pitch, and that’s all I can say about it.

“Hopefully in Trinidad, we can get a pitch with some grass and assistance to more pace-friendly than spin-friendly. But we got to wait and see what we get in Trinidad.”

He praised his bowlers’ effort and took responsibility for his team’s bad start to both innings.

“Me as the senior batsman, I got to lead from the front with runs. For me, I’m marking myself hard. We didn’t get runs and I got to lead from the front, simple. We had a plan and executed well but the pitch was a difficult one to score quickly on so it was important for us to be disciplined and bowl to the respective fields and we did well there. I can’t fault the bowlers and batting-wise we just didn’t get the runs.”

Thursday’s match is the 100th Test between both cricketing nations. Despite a resounding loss in the first, Brathwaite firmly believes his squad has the artillery to deliver an improved showing in Trinidad.

“We have to show some character and bounce back. I believe so and we have to. The crowd came out and supported us and we let them down. This team has the character to fight and we got to do it, full stop.”

Additionally, for three sessions,

For three sessions, West Indies were unable to use their most dangerous bowler Rahkeem Cornwall on the slow-turning surface. This was partly because he was off the field, nursing a chest infection, during the second and third sessions of day two, and also because he wasn’t allowed to bowl during the first session of day three even though he was back on the field.

This, Brathwaite said, hampered their chances with the ball. But he reiterated the inconsistencies in their batting.

“Obviously not the result we wanted. We let ourselves down in the first innings with the bat and that put us behind from the start. The total we put up, winning the toss and batting first, it wasn’t good enough. We started from behind.

“Losing Rahkeem for four hours yesterday (Friday) was tough because the pitch was spinning but I think first innings we didn’t put runs on the board.”

Amid the shabby display, Brathwaite was in high praise of Athanaze and the bowlers.

On his debut, Brathwaite said, “I think it was good how Alick, a debutant, went about his game, batting, in the field and then asking him to bowl some overs. That was a positive. I thought we bowled well and kept them under three runs an over for 150 overs we bowled, that was good. It’s good to see Alick looking like he belongs so I think there’s still a lot of positive we can take into the second Test match.

“Execution is the key on the attacking shots when you’re looking to score and when you’re defending. We probably got to use the bat a little more than probably pushing the pad at the ball.”