Test newcomer praises Gayle for his support

Published: Saturday, April 5, 2008, 15:18 [IST]
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Newcomer Sewnarine Chattergoon has recognised the calming influence West Indies captain Chris Gayle brought to his first innings in Test cricket against Sri Lanka on Friday.

The pint-sized left-hander showed little or no nerves when he scored 46 to help West Indies reach 268 for seven, replying to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 278, before bad light stopped play 14.1 overs early on the second day of the second and final Test at Queen's Park Oval.

"I was a bit nervous, but the good thing was that I was with my captain, a senior member, and I rallied around him," said Chattergoon.

"He told me to relax and play my normal game. He has been struggling against Sri Lanka, but he is a world-class batsman, and he can come out any time and destroy any bowling attack. I was confident going out with him.

"I was looking for the single to get down to the non-striker's end and he helped me a lot. He was playing positively, and I believe I was fortunate because the Sri Lankan bowlers put more emphasis on him than on me."

Chattergoon, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Thursday, was also grateful that compatriots Ramnaresh Sarwan, captain of his native Guyana, the West Indies vice-captain, and close friend, and Shivanrine Chanderpaul were also in the side to give him support.

"They are my favourite cricketers, and it is a great feeling because I never thought I would play a Test match with both of them," he said.

"They always talk to me whenever they return home, when we play first-class cricket, and they tell me when the chance comes to play Test cricket to just to play to my strengths and to know what my weaknesses are."

Chattergoon showed he had heeded their advice in a knock that lasted 2-1/4 hours in which Sri Lanka's two champion bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan were constant threats.

"The two of them are great bowlers," he said. "To get the opportunity in my first Test innings to play against them was a bit difficult, but I played to my ability and I was successful in the end."

Chattergoon had missed the chance of making his debut on his home ground two weeks ago because he fell ill two days before the opening Test at the Guyana National Stadium, but he was far from satisfied.

"I feel pretty okay that I made 46, but I think I should have gone on," he said. "Hopefully, in the next innings, if I have the opportunity, I will carry on and bat longer."

Chattergoon, who previously played in six One-day Internationals before earning his first Test cap, felt the match could swing either way, but hoped the pendulum would favour West Indies.

"We had a very good start, and we didn't capitalise on it, but that's how the game goes," he said.

"We are looking forward to getting a big lead. Anything over 100 would be useful. Hopefully, we could then bowl them out for a reasonable total on (Saturday) and set things up for a victory."

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