MUMBAI, India – Head coach Ottis Gibson challenged the West Indies’ batsmen to leave their stamp of authenticity on the second Test against India which opens this coming Thursday at the Wankhede Stadium here.
The Windies had a full training session in steamy conditions on Sunday morning at the venue where they hope to level the two-Test series, following a gut-wrenching innings and 51-run defeat inside three days in the first Test, which ended last Friday at Eden Gardens in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.
The visitors flew into this Indian west coast city on Saturday evening, and Gibson said they were using the training session on Sunday to knock some more of the rust off their game and get into the right frame of mind to put up a stronger challenge the second time around.
“There is only so much talking any coach can do,” said Gibson. “When you play five batsmen, and you sit down and stress the importance of those five batsmen batting long, and you set yourself a challenge of batting a day and a half in the first innings, it is then up to those five batsmen to negotiate whatever the opposition bowlers throw at them and hang around for five days.
“When you have a run-out and a couple of soft dismissals within those five batsmen then it puts pressure on everybody else. That is exactly what happened. We have to get better. We have to learn from those mistakes and try not to repeat them – but we were a bit rusty coming and I expect to see a much better showing from this West Indies team in the next Test.”
On how the Windies batting can improve, Gibson said: “Try and bat for three days. We won the toss in good batting conditions and we batted 70-odd overs in the first innings. That is just not good enough. We know in India you have to bat long, put runs on the board, 400 minimum in the first innings really. So the 234 that we made was pretty average and that’s why you see us trying to get into the nets [on Sunday].
“We were little bit rusty coming in, but we are not going to use that as an excuse. We still had our opportunities to make scores – we had six or seven guys who got starts and did not carry on. Only one guy got a half-century. When India batted only one or two of those guys got starts and made hundreds. And that was the difference.”
On the decision to pick just five top-order batsmen, Gibson said: “When you look at the result, you will tend to want to think that way, but this is the combination that has won us our last few Tests and we back those guys.
“They did not perform as we expect and this is something we have to consider going into the next Test. It is a two-Test series and we have to look at the best combination to put out to make sure we win here. It is the way this team goes out and play that will make the difference.
“We’ve come out [on Sunday], since we were supposed to be playing the final day of the first Test and we will work harder in our preparation, and we will try to correct the things that went wrong.”
On the question of off-spinner Shane Shillingford being over-bowled, Gibson said: “Darren Sammy did not play the role with the ball that he should have, and Veerasammy Permaul was our most economical bowler, but he was not as threatening as we would have liked.
“Those two were a little bit ineffective and so it puts a lot of pressure on other bowlers. Shane was our most effective bowler and your most effective bowler will normally bowl the most overs.”
He continued: “Tino Best and Sheldon Cottrell have a role to play when they come in for their short, sharp spells and have to be more accurate.
“All in all, we were a bit rusty coming into the match and it showed. We didn’t hit our straps, our lines and lengths for the seamers, and the spinners were not as accurate as they could be. But if you look at the first session on the second day, there were signs that if we get it right and can sustain it, we can be a threat.”
Gibson, a former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler, hailed Mohammad Shami. The fast-medium bowler became the second-most successful Indian bowler on debut, claiming nine West Indies wickets in the first Test with prodigious reverse swing to set up victory for the home team.
“He bowled very well,” said Gibson. “He was very accurate. He was able to get it to swing very late and hopefully we would have learnt from that match.
“I don’t think the pitch [in Mumbai] will be as abrasive as the one in Kolkata and reverse swing will play as much a role as it did in Kolkata – but we will wait and see.
“We have batsmen that have faced reverse swing before and got runs – but they have never faced Mohammad Shami before and this is something they will have to get used to.”