Munaf Patel earns praise from Gayle and Lara

Published: Friday, June 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Basseterre, St Kitts:Even before his off-stump was sent cart-wheeling by Munaf Patel, West Indies opener Chris Gayle said he was well aware that the lanky seamer was the only Indian bowler who would threaten his wicket with his probing reverse swing.

''Munaf bowled very well and he got the ball to do a bit. He was one of the main guys who I thought could get me out and my strategy was not to face him a lot. But I was at strike most of the time. He got some reverse swing going that claimed my wicket,'' said Gayle recalling the delivery which bowled him 17 runs short of his hundred.

Gayle's observation were supported by West Indies skipper Brian Lara who said Munaf, with his good first spells and reverse swing later in the day, has posed many questions to the West Indian batsmen and looks like taking a wicket every time he came on to bowl.

''Munaf has kept it tight through out the series and bowls well with both the new and old ball,'' Lara said.

Lara recalled the reverse swinging delivery which bowled Gayle and called it a brilliant ball.

''Gayle played well and was looking good for his century but it was a brilliant delivery that sent his off stump cart-wheeling,'' he said.

The Indian team too is looking at Munaf as top strike bowler and he has not disappointed. On a dry day for India when all the bowlers struggled, Munaf provided the lone Indian success.

Munaf has already taken 10 wickets in the series so far and has always looked to strike whenever given the ball. He has used the slow pitches to his advantage by bowling wicket to wicket that has earned him quite a few leg before dismissals.

Indian opener Wasim Jaffer, who has played with Munaf for Mumbai and has also faced him on many occasions, feels that the Indian team was now looking at him to get wickets.

''Munaf has emerged as our top fast bowler in this series. Today, he bowled very well particularly in the second spell. We are looking at him to give us breakthrough every now and then because he is a strike bowler and has been bowling an excellent line and length,'' Jaffer said.

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