Mumbai: West Indies bowlers are having a little contest among themselves to get the prized wicket of retiring batting great Sachin Tendulkar in his last Test and have their names etched in history books, said visiting captain Darren Sammy.
“From the moment we heard it is going to be his last Test in Mumbai, all the bowlers were quite motivated. There is a chance to go down in history. The last stroke he would play in any cricket match and your name could go down in there,” Sammy said.
Senior West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul would also be playing his 150th Test match and Sammy said his milestone will be overshadowed by Tendulkar’s 200th match. “The match our most experienced player would be playing his 150th game in Chanderpaul. That is a big milestone for him and for us. It will be overshadowed by Sachin’s 200. We, as a team, would go out and work hard for Shiv.”
The 29-year old Sammy wished that the Guyanese player should get 150 runs equivalent to the number of matches he has played. “Like Sachin, everybody can see he has not changed. Shiv, when it comes to his batting, the way he prepares, he has been the same ever since I have known him. You could see the way it reflects on his game. I hope he goes on to score 150 in his 150th match. I don’t know if I could say the same for Sachin, that means he will get a double,” he said.
Sammy hoped that Chanderpaul would continue to play for a few more years.
“Shiv has been very important to us. Since Brian (Lara) left, he has been the rock of the batting. The young players could take a page out of his book, the way he prepares. Hopefully he will be around in the dressing room for a few years to come,” he said.
Sammy said it’s an honour to play in Tendulkar’s landmark Test but said they would focus on winning it. “It feels great. It is a great honour for us, here to be taking part in his final Test match. And we still have to go out and focus on what we have to do. I think it is a great moment for Sachin, especially for what he has done in cricket in India and all over the world. He deserves all the praises and all the blessings that has been bestowed upon him.”
The St Lucian player said that India adjusted well to the longer format coming straight from the ODI-series against Australia. “Both teams came to this series playing one-day cricket. India adjusted much quicker than us. We were not patient enough. Once we were put under pressure, we didn’t respond quite well. Something we have to work on,” he said.
West Indies lost the first Test at Kolkata by an innings and 51 runs and Sammy said he was unfazed about people questioning his place in the side.
“I have been through this situation since the first day I started my career. To be honest, right now, I am not even worried about it. I am not worried about the criticism. I am here to do a job to the best of my ability. Once the selectors or someone feels it is time to move on then so be it. We have moved on from Sammy in one-day cricket as captain, I will still enjoy my game. That is the least of my worries right now,” he said.
Mohammed Shami, who played his debut match in Kolkata, posed problems for the visiting batsmen with his reverse swing and Sammy said they are better prepared to face him this time around.
“We are prepared for that. Throughout the sessions, we have batted in Mumbai; we have got the balls scratched up, to get the reverse swing going. To practice more realistically, what we are going to face out there in the middle. It’s good when you have a raw quality that nobody knows about. He got a chance to play for India and he grabbed it with both hands.
“Also, we are prepared for other bowlers like Ashwin and Ojha. It’s about executing our plans properly and whatever India brings at us, we are ready to face it especially in pressure situations,” he said.
West Indies opener Chris Gayle hasn’t lived up to his reputation in India in the Test format but Sammy defended him, saying they are not too concerned about his form. “I am not worried about Chris. Chris is someone that could come out on any given day, like he has done all over the world, showing his attack. Hopefully, he could start with this match. Over the years, we have learnt not to rely on one person. His form is not a worry for us. It’s us collectively as a batting group that is more worrying than one person in particular. We have to bat at least 120 overs in the first innings. It is very important to get a good first innings score here in India and we have not been able to do that,” he said.
Sammy said the visitors would look to play all five days in this Test match, after the first Test was wrapped up inside three days. “It is always tough to play India in India. It is a tough battle. These things are like challenge. We have to show that we could rise to the occasion and come there and give Sachin a good send-off. The pitch looks really good. It looks like a good cricket pitch and we all know Mumbai is good for the first three or three and half days and the spinners can play.
“So, hopefully, we could stretch and play five full days of cricket and get all the tricks that pitches have for us. How bowlers could exploit it and how our batsmen can enjoy good batting conditions as well,” he said.