St John's (Antigua): Indian wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra conceded on Sunday that he had spent a sleepless night before completing his maiden Test century in the fourth Test against the West Indies here.
The 20-year-old needed just seven runs on Sunday to complete his hundred and become the first Indian wicket-keeper to reach the three-figure mark on foreign soil. "I hardly slept as I was restless to get those seven runs," said Ratra after achieving a rare feat. He was the first Indian wicket-keeper to score an away Test century in 49 years, the last being Vijay Manjrekar against the West Indies in 1953 at Jamaica. Manjrekar, however, was a batsman who kept wickets in that match in place of Padmanabh Joshi. The highest score in an overseas Test by a specialist Indian wicket-keeper was 89, by Farookh Engineer against Australia in 1967 at Adelaide.
Ratra underwent a spell of uncertainty on 99 before completing his first century in only his third Test. He survived a leg before appeal off fast bowler Mervyn Dillon, hit on the fingers by Cameron Cuffy and then nearly fell on his stumps while trying to duck a Dillon bouncer. "Yes, it was a painful blow and the nail hurt a lot. I was in pain, but I knew my responsibility because there was no one to keep wickets.
I was determined to get those seven runs," Ratra said. He said it was a big challenge to score a hundred against the West Indies fast bowlers and he was happy to have done it. "I like batting in the Caribbean because fast bowlers are here. So, it's a big challenge for youngsters to score runs here and I always like challenges." Ratra said and added he was confident of scoring big after having completed his half- century. "I was very confident after reaching the half-century. I just played my natural game.
I wanted to stay at the crease for a long time and didn't want to play risky shots," he said. He was lucky to have made it to the squad, having scored just 16 in his previous four Test innings. "I couldn't score in the last two Tests, so I worked hard with the coach. My captain and teammates gave me a lot of confidence. That's why I was able to do well."