Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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Deep hits maiden Test 100
Abhijit Chatterjee
Tribune News Service

Deep Dasgupta
Deep Dasgupta raises his bat to acknowledge the cheering crowd after scoring a century on the second day of the first Test match between India and England at the PCA stadium at SAS Nagar on Tuesday. — Reuters photo

Chandigarh, December 4
The first century in Test cricket is always a memorable landmark for any cricketer. And this afternoon when India’s stop-gap opener Deep Dasgupta reached the magical figure of 100 in the first Test against England at the PCA Stadium in SAS Nagar, he had more than proved a point not only to his teammates but also to the national selectors.

It is hoped that with this century this Bengal cricketer must have solved the problem of who will partner Shiv Sunder Das. The gutsy Deep had opened the India innings with a fair amount of success in South Africa. His 63 at the Port Elizabeth Test, when he was pushed into the firing line when no other batsman was willing to shoulder the responsibility, had already given glimpses of what he was capable of. When Deep was included in the national squad for the South Africa tour even the members of the selection committee were not very clear about his capabilities. But today’s showing has not only helped him to prove a point but has also helped his mentors to settle a score or two. What he has to do now is to polish up his keeping a little. Deep has a long international career in front of him and things can only get better for Indian cricket with 24-year-old boy filling a very vital slot.

The fact remains that Deep Dasgupta was playing in the Indian team even in this Test as wicketkeeper. The decision to send him in along with Shiv Sunder Das to open the India innings was taken when the designated opener, Sanjay Bungar, pulled a hamstring muscle while fielding. And Deep grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Not unwilling to get right behind the ball, Deep has the right temperament to open. And opening is a task that Deep is acquainted with. He started his Ranji Trophy career with Bengal as opener. It is only in the last couple of seasons that he has been batting at No 6.

With this century Deep has joined the select group of Indian wicketkeepers who have scored centuries while opening for the country. The list includes Buddi Kundaran, Farooq Engineer and Nayan Mongia, who scored 152 against Australia at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi in October, 1996.

India’s progress, however, at the PCA Stadium, especially in the first two sessions of play today, was extremely slow and at times the batsmen got bogged down for no apparent reason. The England bowling was mediocre, and at times even pedestrian, but still the batsmen were not willing to go for their strokes. And to make things difficult for the Indians England skipper Nasser Hussain packed his off-side with eight players and then asked his bowlers to bowl way outside the off stump thereby preventing the Indians from scoring. But then the initiative should have been seized by the hosts because after all it is they who have to prove a point after the disaster in South Africa.

England must be happy that they were able to restrict India to 262 for three, just 24 runs ahead, when stumps were drawn for the day. It was only in the third session of play that runs came much more freely, when Sachin Tendulkar joined Rahul Dravid after the dismissal of Deep, out for an exact 100 (338 minutes, 254 balls, 15 fours). While it is understandable that Deep, playing in his first Test in the country and the third of his life, was not willing to chance his arm after having sensed that this was one attack from which he could get his maiden Test century the onus was on Rahul Dravid to grab the advantage for India.

But for no apparent reason Dravid too went into a shell giving the England bowlers a feeling that they were more competent than they actually were. With a Test average of about 50 and being the senior partner Rahul should have grabbed the advantage as India crawled, specially in the second session of play when only 71 runs came in 29 overs. The crawl came as a big disappointment to the fair crowd which had gathered at the stadium today. It was only in the last hour of play when Sachin and Rahul were together that India got some quick runs — 112 runs being added in the third session of play.

The fact that the England bowlers were not menacing was proved by night watchman Anil Kumble who this morning hung around for 103 minutes before he was out after scoring 37 (86 balls six fours). The long stay of Anil Kumble gave enough indication that the England bowlers were pedestrian.

With skipper Saurav Ganguly and V.V. S. Laxman yet to come and Sachin Tendulkar (31 not out in 76 minutes, 53 balls five fours) and Rahul Dravid (78 not out in 266 minutes, 193 balls and nine fours) at the crease England have a tough task on hand when the game resumes tomorrow. There might be something in the PCA Stadium strip even on the third day’s play but England do not have the kind of bolwers needed to grab the advantage.

Scoreboard

England (Ist innings): 238

India (Ist innings):

Das b Butcher 2

Deep Das Gupta b White 100

Kumble c Foster b Dowson 37

Dravid batting 78

Tendulkar batting 31

Extras: (lb 9, nb 3, w 2) 14

Total: (for 3 wickets) 262

FOW: 1-23, 2-76, 3-212.

Bowling: Mathew Hoggard 19-7-48-0, James Ormand 21-7-43-0, Mark Butcher 7-1-19-1, Andrew Flintoff: 19-4-49-0, Craig White 15-4-35-1, Richard Dowson 20-4-59-1.Back

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