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Friday, July 22, 2016

Test at Antigua ~ Ajay Ratra's maiden century and Anil Kumble bowling with broken jaws

In the first Test (test no. 2207) against West Indies, India is in a comfortable position 302/4.  Virat Kohli unbeaten on 143; Shikhar Dhawan made 84.  Kohli joins Kapil Dev and Rahul Dravid as Indian Captains making centuries in WI.  Before you read further, do you the Indian wicket-keeper, (retired last year)  who made a century against WI but went on to play only 6 tests and 12 ODIs ? 

There were times when teams feared touring West Indies – and many players career ended because of such tour.  In 1970-71, Dilip Sardesai’s career was seemingly closing.  He hit 212 at Kingston and made 642 in that Series but was outsmarted by the arrival of the compact little master Sunil Gavaskar who made 774 runs in that single Series and changed the way Indians batted.

This Test is played at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.  The new venue, built in time for the 2007 World Cup,  has stands named after Curtly Ambrose and Andy Roberts.  Statistically, 15 consecutive Tests in which West Indies haven't beaten India, starting from their tour of India in 2002. India have won eight, and seven have been drawn. India are the only team West Indies haven't beaten in a Test since October 2002.

Antigua, also known as Waladli or Wadadli by the native population, is an island in the West Indies. It is one of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean region and the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations in Nov 1981. Antigua means "ancient" in Spanish, its  economy is mainly reliant on tourism, with the agricultural sector serving the domestic market.

English Harbour on the south-eastern coast is famed for its protected shelter during violent storms. It is the site of a restored British colonial naval station called "Nelson's Dockyard" after Captain Horatio Nelson.  Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson,  was Senior Naval Officer of the Leeward Islands from 1784 to 1787 on H.M.S. Boreas. During his tenure, he tried to enforce the Navigation Acts. These acts prohibited trade with the newly formed United States of America. Most of the merchants in Antigua depended upon American trade, so many of them despised Captain Nelson. As a result, he was unable to get a promotion for some time after his stint on the island. The Americans were at this time trading with the islands, taking advantage of the register of their ships, which had been issued while they were British subjects. Nelson knew that, by the Navigation Act, no foreigners, directly or indirectly, are permitted to carry on any trade with these possessions.

Antigua was one of the very first nations to legalize, license, and regulate online gambling and is a primary location for incorporation of online gambling companies.  In 2006 the United States Congress voted to approve the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which criminalized the operations of offshore gambling operators which take wagers from American-based gamblers. This was a prima facie violation of the GATS treaty obligations enforced by the WTO, resulting in a series of rulings unfavorable to the US.

The Guns for Antigua scandal was a political scandal involving the shipment of Israeli-made weapons through Antigua to the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia. The affair was exposed by the Louis Blom-Cooper Royal Commission, following the discovery that several murders in Colombia had been perpetrated with Israeli guns that had been shipped through Antigua and were ostensibly for the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, which is equipped for free by the United States.

In May 2002, Sourav Ganguly led Indians played WI led by Hooper.  Wasim Jaffer 86; Rahul Dravid 91; Sourav 45 made runs.  VVS Laxman made 130; the young Ratra in his maiden tour made unbeaten 115 with tail for company.  India declared at 513/9 – but had to bowl all its 11 [yes, the keeper Ajay Ratra too bowled an over] in a meandering draw as WI declared at 629/9 with centuries by Carl Hooper, Shiv Chanderpaul and Ridley Jacobs. The test is remembered for Anil Kumble bowling with his face bandaged. Kumble sent down 14 consecutive overs and became the first bowler to dismiss Brian Lara while bowling with a broken jaw. He was due to fly back to Bangalore the following day for surgery, and as he said, "At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best.

Batting at No. 7 (Ajay Ratra at No. 8 made a century), Kumble was hit by Merv Dillon. He spat out blood but batted on for another 20 minutes. The series was poised 1-1 and this was the fourth Test. India declared at 513 for 9. Test was drawn, Kumble reasoned about his bowling  "I didn't want to sit around" !

Ajay Ratra has retired.  Ratra last played a first-class game in 2013 for Tripura. Ratra,  made his international debut in 2002, played six Tests and 12 ODIs for India. His maiden Test century against West Indies made him the fifth-youngest Indian player and the youngest wicketkeeper to score a Test hundred.  He was just 20 and it was only his third Test, but later the summer proved to be cruel as he lost his place in the Test side to Parthiv Patel, and in the one-day side to the appointment of Rahul Dravid as keeper in the quest for balance. Ratra was part of the Indian under-19 team that won the Youth World Cup in early 2000, and the following season, he captained them to victory over England in a home series.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd July 2016.

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