Bangalore September 17: After being beaten hollow on Sunday, West Indies A made as many as three changes to their line-up. At least two of those turned out to be inspired choices as they squared the series by batting India A out of the game. Jonathan Carter, the Barbados allrounder, played an innings that mirrored Yuvraj Singh’s comeback century for its pace and impact – cautious at the start, ballistic towards the end. With this tour serving as a selection trial for the senior team’s tour in November, Carter may well have pushed his case forward.
Carter was an unfamiliar face to the current crop of India A bowlers, who were not part of the squad that toured the Caribbean last year. His stand of 131 with Leon Johnson, another player brought in for this game, defined the game for West Indies, pushing the score to 279, which was beyond India to chase.
Carter came in at the fall of the second wicket, and his stint may well have ended on 6, had Yusuf Pathan not put down a regulation chance at slip off Shahbaz Nadeem. Yusuf had it covered but the ball popped out and he failed to take it on the rebound. It was the first example of India’s insipid catching and particularly, the ground fielding. This lapse cost India dear.
Carter was slow to begin with, scoring at a strike late of 50 and thereabouts. Kirk Edwards found his touch with three boundaries through the off side in one over by Vinay Kumar. The reckless dismissals of Edwards and Andre Russell – both coming straight after hitting sixes – pegged back West Indies, but when the time came for Carter to take charge, he did it with measured aggression.
The tactic of attempting to clear the rope off every ball, as Russell did in his 4-ball stint, wasn’t the way forward. Carter was more selective in his strokeplay. After top-edging Vinay down to fine leg, his first convincing boundary came off a sweep off Nadeem. He gained in confidence against the spinners, cutting Yusuf past short third man and pulling when the spinners dropped it short.
He was equally comfortable against the pace of Jaydev Unadkat, pulling and whipping him for consecutive boundaries to bring up his fifty. It took 82 balls to get there, and much like Yuvraj’s knock on Sunday, the pace quickened drastically after passing the milestone. What helped Carter progress was the presence of an equally positive Johnson. Johnson too, was let off early – on 7 – but to be fair to Robin Uthappa, it was a tough one-handed chance at slip.
Carter was determined to make the best use of the batting Powerplay – taken after 35 overs – carving the ball over extra cover and using his feet against the spinners, one shot nearly cleaning up Pathan and the umpire. Earlier, he survived a run-out chance on 66, when Johnson pushed the ball to cover and sent back Carter who was nearly halfway down the pitch. Unmukt Chand’s throw was wide and Carter was lucky to still be there.
Every missed opportunity against Carter came with a price. He lofted Pathan several rows over long-on, lofted Vinay over cover, scythed full tosses from the spinners over deep midwicket. Few of Carter’s slogs looked ungainly. None of the seamers were able to contain him, as he pounced on anything pitched up. The absence of yorkers hurt the Indians, as it did the tourists in the opening game. Carter moved to 99 with a massive six over deep midwicket that nearly landed on the second tier.
He reached his century with a single to long-on and in contrast to Yuvraj’s restrained acknowledgement to the crowd, Carter did a leap, roared towards his team-mates and was so caught up in the moment that he failed to turn around to look at his partner. Johnson did the honors by jogging across and embracing his partner.
Carter was the beneficiary of two misfields at the rope that resulted in boundaries, reflective of a poor day in the field for India. Carter was eventually lbw playing all around a full delivery from Unadkat for 133. Thanks to his assault, West Indies managed 135 off their last 15 overs.
Till this knock, Carter had only one first-class century, but no List A ton to his credit. Did his knock surprise his own team-mates? “Not really,” said his captain Kieran Powell. “Jonathan has generally made starts and we have always been talking to him about going on to make that big score and today he really played a massive innings for the team, especially the situation he was in. Everyone was expecting that from him, and he delivered.”
The chase played out in a very similar manner to the opening game, only this time with the teams reversed. The seamers bowled to a plan of bouncing out the young Indian batsmen and Powell later said that he had juggled the bowlers a bit differently and varied his field settings, which ultimately played a part. The upper tier of the western stand was packed – pleasing for a working day – but when Yuvraj and Pathan departed off successive balls, sections of the crowd started filtering out.
West Indies A 279 for 6 (Carter 133, Johnson 39, Vinay 3-56) beat India A 224 (Yuvraj 40, Chand 38, Cummins 4-31) by 55 runs