Early beginning throws Windies' preparations out of window

With natural light dipping rapidly in this part of the world and there being no provision for artificial lights under the playing conditions, the scheduled starting time was pushed up from 9.30 am to 9.00 am only for this second Test. Play began on time on the first two days, but the loss of 50 minutes’ cricket due to two stoppages for bad light on Tuesday left the umpires with no option but to advance the start on days three and four to 8.30 am in a bid to make up for lost time.

Despite Wednesday dawning bright and clear, it was obvious that the early start made a difference, if only marginally, to the way the surface behaved. There was a little bit of moisture that dried up as the day progressed, and while India’s bowlers made the most of it, the West Indian batsmen allowed themselves to be rolled over in their first innings when, in 140 minutes before lunch, they lost eight for 119 in 36 overs to be bowled out for 153.

The reason for that collapse wasn’t so much a damp track as their own ordinary shot-selection and a complete lack of stomach for battle. Without making any excuses, Adrian Barath admitted that the early beginning had thrown his team slightly out of kilt, and not necessarily because of how it impacted the pitch.

“It’s probably the first time I have ever seen that (an 8.30 am start),” the West Indian opener observed. “But be that as it may, I think that was obviously difficult for us batting that early in the morning. Usually, the warm-up starts at 8.30 and here we were, starting the first ball! It was something new for us. Yes, it was a flat track but as I said, we had to apply ourselves.”

The West Indies showed tremendous character to come away relatively unscathed in their second innings, reaching 195 for three, but another 8.30 am start looms on Thursday. The ball is already 62 overs old and therefore a lot softer; whether the West Indian determination will be steelier than it was on Wednesday morning will be interesting to see.

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