HYDERABAD, India, CMC – West Indies captain Jason Holder on Wednesday launched a passionate defence of his side in the wake of heavy criticism following the Rajkot defeat last week, as the embattled Caribbean side prepared to face India in the second Test here starting tomorrow.
Both former India and West Indies players have been critical of the visitors’ first Test performance which saw them crash to an innings and 272-run defeat inside three days – India’s largest margin of victory in Tests.
The defeat extended the Windies’ dismal of having not won on Indian soil for 24 years. They also have not beaten India overall in 16 years.
“A lot has been said about this Test team in particular – things that I am not in agreement with, because we have beaten top sides in the last two-three series we’ve played,” Holder told reporters here.
“We probably haven’t won as many series as we’d like. Within the last year, I think we’ve won two out of four or five series we’ve played. So I don’t understand why people would be this harsh towards us.”
He continued: “We are playing the number one team, India, in their backyard. And history would show we haven’t won a Test match here since 1994 and if you look at the players who came through West Indies cricket I think Brian Lara and these greats have been playing all that time.” In neither innings in Rajkot did West Indies pass 200 after India had piled up a massive 649 for nine declared in their first innings.
Only Roston Chase, in the first innings, and opener Kieran Powell, in the second innings, managed to get half-centuries as the remainder of the batting crumbled without resistance. Understandably, it was the Windies batsman who copped most of the flak from pundits but Holder urged his side to ignore the criticism and allow their performances to speak for them.
“Again, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just focus primarily on what I have to do and what the team has to do. There’s no point worrying about what people have to say because people will always have to say,” Holder asserted. “The only way we can silence the critics or try to silence them – because I don’t think they’ll ever shut up – is by playing cricket.”
He added: “It goes back to my point about being patient and being able to build partnerships – that’s what Test cricket is all about and in tight moments in any game especially when you first come in to bat, you have to absorb some pressure to get a partnership going.”
West Indies welcome back experienced new-ball bowler Kemar Roach who missed the first Test after returning home to Barbados due to his death of his grandmother.
Holder also missed the affair with an ankle injury but there was indication of his availability for the coming Test.
The absence of both key bowlers meant pacers Keemo Paul, with one previous Test and the uncapped Sherman Lewis, both featured in the Windies attack which presented no horrors for the Indian batsmen.
Holder said the inexperience had been evident throughout the match, adding he had spoken to the young bowlers to address some of the shortcomings.
“Inexperience showed in their performances but they had bright sparks in different spells that they bowled,” Holder pointed out.
“It’s a matter for them to understand more about Test cricket. In terms of seamers, it’s not only about if there is anything that is helping the bowlers. If there is nothing happening for the bowlers – like if there is no carry – then you need to be patient.
“It is going to be difficult, this is something I spoken to them [about]. You need your pacers to hold the runs mostly and put the pressure so that the spinners can come and take the wickets.”
He continued: “I had a little session with them at the nets, particularly with Sherman. While I was batting I just challenged him to bowl around the off stump. He is skillful, he has got the movement but it’s just about knowing when to bowl each kind of delivery.
“Sometimes, having the luxury of swinging the ball both ways, you get greedy or impatient.”
The second Test bowls off at midnight Caribbean time Thursday.
INDIA – Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wkp), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur.
WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Sherman Lewis, Keemo Paul, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican.