Kingston (Jamaica): I must say the way Sachin Tendulkar was batting on the fourth afternoon, he had us thinking.
He had put on over 90 runs with Saurav Ganguly and probably scored 70 or 80 of it. The kind of mood he was in, he was hitting some balls for fours, which were not bad balls at all. I talked to my guys at tea break and said let's just try to contain him. I said let's see if we could force him to play some loose shots and get him out. The plan was to keep him quiet. We thought it was important to make him hit the ball behind point on the offside. We might just be able to get a catch behind. Because he is very strong off the ground, through covers and through mid-wicket and in front of square, what we wanted to do was to lock down the field in front of the wicket on both sides and force him to hit the ball down third man and point region. We did hope this way, sooner or later, he would give us a chance. Whenever he did, it was important for us to grasp it.
I think the ball, which got Sachin out, you would back him to keep it out of his wicket every time. May be it was a lapse of concentration but it happens to all of us. All credit to Pedro Collins. I don't know - by luck or he has a master plan for Sachin - but he got him out three times in four digs. The thing about Sachin is, when you dismiss him, it puts a damper on the rest of the batters. It is bit like Brian Lara with us but we are slowly changing this in our team. What's been good about this series is even though you get Lara out, we stuck in and dug in. I was telling my wife a day before I would love to see West Indies win but I wanted to see a hundred from the little man.
When Tendulkar bats the way he did in the two innings, he takes the game to a different level. More than his batting, I am impressed with his humility. There was a moment in our innings when he made a shy at the non-striker's end and Saurav at mid-off got a bad bounce. The Indian captain was uncomfortable and he showed it because a delivery before there were overthrows in that direction only. But Tendulkar just touched his cap and turned his back towards his fielding position. Being a Christian, I could identify with the greatness of the man. Openers were a problem area for India in this series. I thought (Shiv Sunder) Das had batted really, really well in Zimbabwe.
The ball did more in Zimbabwe than it did here. Granted our bowlers are faster. But still his failure came as a surprise to me. I feel Das had a problem with the height of Cuffy and Dillon. There were a lot of balls he looked to play back all the time. I don't know if it was because the bowlers were tall because he was looking to play back a lot, on top, all the time. Thus he was uncomfortable against just short of a length ball, which nipped back. Every time he played, we had a good chance to get him out leg before stumps.
He is a young player and obviously there is a problem about the ball coming back to him. It could be he is not going forward enough. But I am sure he would learn from this tour. They have got a good coach in John Wright and they must have reviewed a lot of videos and I am sure he would serve India well in future. I was disappointed with our batting in the second innings. We batted really, really poor.
May be a stronger batting side would have made us pay for it. Playing against an Australia or South African side, we would have got them straight back into the game and probably would have lost the Test as well. Fortunately, Shivnaraine played well, Collins supported him. As for Collins, it just goes to show that if the tailenders put their mind to it, they can do it. It goes to show we are beginning to mature as a side and that's important.
I have heard Ganguly is being criticised for spreading the field for Chanderpaul and bringing it in for Collins on the fourth evening. I support it because I did the same thing against South Africa last year and it came unstuck. Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald in the Barbados Test had a stand of over hundred runs. For Indians, it was the obvious thing to bowl to Collins. They had knocked over Collins pretty easily in the other Test matches. There was no reason to presume it would be otherwise here. Collins just played very well.
I am also impressed with Indian fast bowlers. I have great respect for Srinath, while Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra offer something different to Indian attack. The tough thing is the way the tours are scheduled these days; there is no recovery period. I feel sorry for them. They bowled three days in Antigua, came here and then had another two days in the field. They are all human, sun was hot and so on, and to think that they have English series straight after this even though the conditions might be a bit cooler, is tough on them. They have a lot of promise and they would be handy in England. They both are capable of moving the ball. I think they are both match-winning bowlers and should be persisted with.