Ironic for India to criticise Umpire Harper's performance
Former West Indies bowling ace Ian Bishop says the key to India leg-spinner Amit Mishra's success is confidence and self-belief. By arrangement with Quba Media Works.
India should be really proud of the way they battled through key moments to win the first Test at Sabina Park. It was ironic that strong statements of dissatisfaction emenated from M S Dhoni's team condemning umpire Daryl Harper's performance specifically, and some of the umpiring in general.
Yes, Harbhajan's lbw was a clear error on replay, and Raina's caught behind verdict was, probably, also, judging by the batsman's reaction. It is dangerous to always go by a player's reaction, even when the DRS is in place.
Two recent examples in the first Test between England and Sri Lanka saw two batsmen review caught decisions against them, only to find through Hotspot that they did actually hit the ball.
Image: Umpire Daryl Harper
There are shortcomings with the DRS
It is a fact that umpire Harper's performance has been rightly under the microscope for some time now. But India does not want the DRS to be used in a series they are involved in. They don't trust Hawkeye, yet how do we know, with any "degree of satisfaction", that Harbjahan Singh's LBW was surely too high? Hotspot would have been more conclusive in Raina's decision.
Yes, there are shortcomings with the DRS; I have always said that and aired my concerns openly. Chief amongst them, but not limited to, is the lack of uniformity across series.
Until we reach perfection, two simple questions must be asked and answered, and this, mainly by players: Is the officiating of the game worse off or better off for the use of the system? Have we had more mistakes by technology or by umpires since the implementation of the system?
Image: Umpire Daryl Harper
The key for Mishra is confidence and self-belief
As much as Dhoni has put a positive spin (no pun intended) on the way his spinners have bowled, by indicating that they got better with each spell and all they have to do is work on their line, privately, he will know they need to work on a bit more than that.
Harbhajan has enough experience to know he has to find a fuller length consistently as well as a more troubling line. In Jamaica, he was too short too often and much too straight. But he has enough experience and will bounce back quickly.
It will be tempting to look closer at Amit Mishra's place if Munaf Patel is fit for this Kensington Oval Test. It will, of course, depend on whether the pitch looks like one that will offer copious amounts of pace and bounce. The key for Mishra is confidence and self-belief.
Yes, he picked four wickets in the first Test, but on that surface he would and should have fancied more.
Image: Amit Mishra
Mishra must be mentally strong
Judging by the way the West Indian batsmen went after Mishra, it is obvious that they believe that he is good when he is allowed to bowl, but falls apart when batsmen go after him.
If that is the case, then he (Mishra) has some issues to overcome; and given the intrinsic nature of the art of spin bowling will always be challenged to keep the ball in the park.
But therein lies the opportunity for the leg-spinner, and Mishra, more than anyone else, should know this: above all other skills, the spinner must be mentally strong. His batting and they key partnership he formed in the second innings with Dravid must be a positive.
Image: Amit Mishra
West Indies badly need runs
For the West Indies, it is about runs.
Vice-captain Brendan Nash has paid the price for a poor season so far. It was not totally unexpected, but it must have been a close thing between Nash and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
It's never nice to see a player dropped, and it emphasises the difficulty players like Nash and [VVS] Laxman and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for example, have in getting enough cricket to keep themselves sharp between Test series, given that they are not part of the limited-overs' set-ups.
It means you can sometimes start a series slow; and with series these days mainly consisting of two or three Test matches, you can pay a heavy price, especially if you are in a losing team.
Again, the West Indies have to decide whether to play five batsmen and five bowlers, given that they are not scoring and don't look like scoring enough runs. The fact that they bowled India out twice in Jamaica for under 300 both times, may allow them to feel that they have enough firepower and the risk of leaving out a batsman is too great.
Runs are needed... badly!
By arrangement with Quba Media Works
Image: Ramnaresh Sarwan