Dravid, Laxman show the way to youngsters

Applications the key to success in demanding conditions

During his epic 112 at Sabina Park, Dravid didn’t offer any shot to almost 40 percent of the total 274 balls he faced, while making an elegant 85 at Kensington Oval Laxman, who completed 8000 Test runs, left alone nearly 35 percent of the 146 balls he faced. It could easily be mistaken for a dour approach, but the knocks also manifest their patience, something yet to be shown by the likes of Virat Kohli and Abhinav Mukund in this Test series.

Both are fantastic talents as their respective records at various levels suggest, but talent alone cannot guarantee success in top-flight cricket, especially in Tests. In the longer version, weathering the storm, as Dravid would like to call it, and wait for your chance is important, an area the younger generation yet to master.

After battling his way to 25, Mukund had a brilliant chance in the second innings of the Kingston Test to convert it into something more substantial. But the Chennai left-hander lost his cool against Devendra Bishoo, and his cut ended in the hands of Carlton Baugh behind the stumps, and a little more patience at that stage would have helped him to make a mark in a crucial situation. Add the failure of M Vijay, India suddenly has a lot to solve at the top.

However, Laxman offered his support to the youngsters. “Abhinav had an excellent domestic season, and Vijay has always grabbed his opportunities. It's tough playing in the West Indies, especially on wickets that are usually damp in the first couple of hours on the first day. But they are potential match-winners,” he said.

Kohli seemed a man in hurry in all the three innings he’d played in the West Indies so far. Perhaps, the overdose of one-dayers and T20 has limited his patience, and now he thinks that every ball is there to hit. In the first Test, he also showed a side that many thought non-existent, vulnerability against short-pitched balls.

Fidel Edwards examined Kohli’s patience, technique and temperament in a searing spell, and the Delhi lad survived the by the skin of his teeth before falling to the pacer ultimately. On Tuesday, Kohli offerd a nothing-shot to a Ravi Rampaul short delivery after getting caught in double mind as to whether duck or defend. Laxman insisted it was not a worrying sign.

“Kohli is a fabulous cricketer, and he has improved as a batsman in last two years. He played well in various tough situations in the ODIs. It shows he is improving with every match. He will be a great player to watch out for, a match-winner for the country,” Laxman offered his support to Kohli, who has so far managed scores of 4, 15, 0 in this series.

Their struggles might also have to do with the fact that these youngsters are not exposed to different conditions, playing all along in the batsman-friendly sub-continental pitches. Dravid and Laxman have always lauded their respective stints with Kent and Lancashire in the English county in polishing their skills. Similarly, Zaheer Khan has benefited hugely from the time he spent with Worcestershire.

“It will be a great experience for a batsman to play county cricket. But the amount of time the cricketers are already playing, it doesn't give much opportunity for them to play there. But you get so many opportunities to play on different pitches, in different weather and against different bowlers. The more exposure you get, more experience you will get in playing tough cricket,” Laxman said.

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