Kingston (Jamaica): India saw its game-plan going awry as West Indian openers gave its team a flying start on the opening day of the fifth and final cricket Test here on Sunday.
With the pitch sporting a lot of grass, Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly had no hesitation in sending the opposition in to bat after he won his first toss of the series. But his three medium-pacers were unable to take advantage of the helpful conditions and after a watchful start West Indies openers Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds scored at a brisk rate as the hosts reached 88 without loss by lunch. Gayle was batting on 55 with 11 boundaries while Hinds was on 32.
The Indian bowlers failed to find the correct line and length on a pitch that promised much for them and were thus rendered ineffective. The West Indian openers, both hailing from Jamaica, also did the sensible thing and spent the first hour just gauging the pace and bounce of the pitch. Scoring picked up only in the latter half of the morning session, especially in the last half an hour when runs came freely for the home team. Gayle was the more aggressive of the two as he unleashed a series of well-timed shots, mostly between long-on and long-off. Gayle pulled Zaheer Khan to the mid-wicket boundary and then cover drove him in the same over for another four.
In a subsequent over from the left-arm seamer, Gayle hit him for two consecutive boundaries to the long-on. He reached his half-century in the last over before lunch from Harbhajan Singh. Gayle cut the bowler through point for his tenth boundary, which brought him on 49 and swept the next delivery to take two runs and raise his half-century. Another sweep off the next ball ran to the third man fence. Hinds' innings was punctuated by some streaky shots through the slips, taking a boundary each off the new ball bowlers Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra. Both Srinath and Nehra were erratic in their first spells and were unable to trouble the batsmen much.
Seeing his plans getting upset, Ganguly brought himself into the attack in the 20th over but failed to make much impression. He also received his first warning from umpire Russel Tiffin for running on the pitch in his follow-through. Keeping the green-top pitch in mind, India had toyed with the idea of going in with a fourth medium-pacer, Tinu Yohannan, at the expense of Harbhajan Singh but decided to play it safe and included the off spinner in the side. Harbhajan Singh came as the only change in the Indian team that played the fourth Test at Antigua, replacing leg spinner Anil Kumble who had to fly back home due to a jaw fracture. West Indies retained the same side that played the previous match