June 2, 2002

India take series with big win at Trinidad

The rules of good hospitality dictate that a host never lets his visitor return home empty-handed. The Caribbean - the epitome of good hospitality, where palm fronds sway endlessly, the rum flows freely, and the men and women sway gracefully to Calypso in the stands - proved to be that proverbial good host. India won the one-day series 2-1 with an effective performance at Trinidad.

It may only be pyjama cricket, and India may have lost the Test series. But that will do nothing to dampen the spirits of the team. A victory, all said and done, is a victory - in any form of the game. And there are few things that bring as much joy to a sportsman as victory. The joy on the faces of the Indian team was there for all to see when they recorded a 56-run win and strode off the field.

After the drubbing they received yesterday, the Indians bounced back in fine fashion.

It certainly helped that Sourav Ganguly won the toss again and elected to bat first on a wicket that looked full of runs. In the initial stages, the ball swung a bit, but nowhere near enough to cause concern.

Virender Sehwag, who got out to airy shots in the first two matches, seemed to be much more circumspect. Instead of going after everything from the word Go, Sehwag attempted to get his eye in. Getting his front foot well forward, Sehwag played some convincing drives straight back down the wicket.

Yet, once again Sehwag fell to a similar stroke as the last game. After making 32 (32 balls, six fours), Sehwag flicked Merv Dillon straight to Chris Gayle at wide mid-on.

Dinesh Mongia, coming in at one drop, played in his usual reassured style. Taking his time to get a good idea about the conditions, Mongia played some pretty strokes in his 28, but he too could not convert his start.

Hitting one booming stroke down the wicket, Mongia was caught on the long-off fence by Cameron Cuffy, who could not control himself and back-pedalled over the ropes. Just balls later, however, Mongia (28, 37 balls, two fours, one six) patted a slower ball from Corey Collymore straight to Gayle in the mid-wicket region.

In all this, a supremely confident Ganguly showed why he is so dangerous in the shorter version of the game. Timing the ball ever so well through the off-side, Ganguly kept the scoreboard ticking over. Whenever he was tied down by a spell of tight bowling, Ganguly broke the shackles by coming down the wicket and hitting cleanly over the top.

At the halfway mark, Ganguly was coasting along. Soon after, he reached his half-century, marked his guard once more, and set his stalls out for a long innings. But it wasn't to be. Unable to resist temptation, Ganguly attempted to pull a short delivery from Dillon. The pull is a shot that has not served the Indian captain well in the past, and today was no exception. Playing the ball uppishly, Ganguly (56 runs, 80 balls, five fours) only managed to find Ramnaresh Sarwan at midwicket.

Rahul Dravid then came out to the middle at number five and looked to keep the scoreboard ticking over with quick singles. Content to milk the bowling, Dravid (20) played a half-hearted flick off Hooper to be caught at mid-wicket.

The Indian innings got a bit shaky at this stage. Yuvraj Singh spanked one ball through mid-wicket and helped himself to a couple of easy singles before being cleaned up by a faster ball from Gayle. Late on the stroke, Yuvraj (10) could only look on in dismay as the off-stump was pegged back.

Tendulkar, a bit disappointed at the lack of support from the other end, played well within himself. Perhaps the sore shoulder was hampering him as well, but the little master from Mumbai was clearly not at his best. The flashy drives were missing, the aggressive pulls nowhere to be seen. However, the quick running between the wickets and deft touches were very much in evidence. Until one such dab off Dillon resulted in the ball trickling back onto the stumps. Tendulkar top-scored with 65 (70 balls, three fours, one six).

Ajit Agarkar (3) contributed his customary single-digit score before holing out, and Zaheer Khan (4) became Dillon's fifth victim when he found Pedro Collins at long-on.

When Gayle knocked over Ashish Nehra's off-stump with the last ball of the 50th over, he returned the excellent figures of three for 27. Dillon with five for 52, however, was the real star of the West Indian bowling.

When the West Indies began their innings, they were docked one over for a slow over rate. When rain interrupted play, their task was made harder. They were required to score 248 in 44 overs.

There was no real fight from the start of the innings. The openers both failed. Wavell Hinds (2) slashed a full delivery from Ashish Nehra straight to Sehwag at slip. Chris Gayle (3) was undone by the ball of the day - a superb inswinging yorker at good pace from Zaheer Khan that knocked the base of the off-stump.

The West Indies needed a good start from its openers if they were to chase this big total. Once that went missing, things went predictably wrong.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, struggling to get the tidy bowling away for ones and twos, played one glorious cover drive that landed in the stands before trying to repeat the feat. Giving himself room, Sarwan (32, 44 balls, one four, one six) was unable to get his bat down in time and Harbhajan Singh struck, clipping the leg-stump.

All hopes then rested on Brian Lara. The Prince looked shaky at his home ground, scratching around a fair bit before beginning to sweep the spinners with some fluency. A straight drive back past the bowler's head showed that Lara was not completely out of touch. And yet it was all not quite there. The last knock for Lara this series ended on 36 when he deposited a Tendulkar full-toss down Mongia's throat at mid-wicket.

Carl Hooper lasted just two balls, mis-hitting Agarkar straight up into the air for Sehwag to catch.

Even a breezy 71-run partnership between Ridley Jacobs and Shivnarine Chanderpaul for the sixth wicket could not stop India from winning the deciding one-dayer by 56 runs and with it, the series 2-1.

It was a cracking session of entertainment from Jacobs and Chanderpaul. While he had plodded on manfully in the Tests, Chanderpaul came out all guns blazing here. With the required rate well over seven runs per over, there was nothing to do but throw the bat at everything on offer.

Chanderpaul did just that. A cracking six over mid-wicket got the crowd on their feet in the anticipation of something magical. And magical it was for the span of 51 runs that flowed off Chanderpaul's blade in just 40 balls. Apart from that huge six, Chanderpaul found the ropes four times for boundaries before he mis-hit Harbhajan Singh to Ganguly at mid-wicket.

The dismissal of Chanderpaul meant that the West Indies were 159 for six and into the tail.

Jacobs, in his inimitable fashion, bludgeoned 36 before a flashy drive off Agarkar swirled high and wide to third man. Harbhajan Singh got well under a steepler, and that was the end of the West Indian challenge.

The tail stuck around for a few overs offering token resistance before the hosts were all out for 191 in the 37th over.