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November 4, 2002
After having won the first two Test matches so convincingly, all that remained to be seen was whether India would make it a 3-0 clean sweep of the series. West Indies for the best part of this Test series had struggled in all departments of the game, and there were no way one could see them avoiding a rout when the Test started. But all credit to the to the tourists, they proved a lot of people, me included, wrong by scrapping hard at Eden Gardens.
Moving on to the Test, the one thing that struck me the most was the improvement in the West Indies fielding. A few crucial catches were taken, unlike in Chennai. Their bowlers also did a good job to restrict India to 275/6 on the first day, before failing rather dramatically on the second day. This enabled the Indian tail to wag merrily - Parthiv Patel and Javagal Srinath were allowed the luxury of free hits as India posted a healthy total.
That said the contribution of Sanjay Bangar at the top of the Indian order must not be forgotten. He may not be the most attractive stroke player in the team, but Bangar makes up for all that by doing a tremendous job as an opening batsman. Not only did he top score with 77 but he also carried out the important job of seeing off the new ball. One look at the second innings failure of Bangar at Kolkata and the events that followed proves Bangar's importance to this team.
When the West Indies replied, their batsmen showed commendable application. They were helped to no small extent by the lack of discipline in the Indian bowling. I am not too sure why our spin bowlers occasionally tend to forget the virtue of bowling a good line and length. But they sure did make the task of Wavell Hinds, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels easier.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul's success was an entirely different matter. He is a tough cookie and relishes playing against India, as evidenced by the fact that five out of his six centuries have come against them. His first hundred in the land of his ancestors must always remain an especially sweet one for him.
Parthiv Patel has emerged as a stronger cricketer and has cemented his place in this Indian Test team. He has been a revelation behind the stumps - trust me it is not an easy task to keep when the ball is jumping and turning. The kid has developed a great deal since I first saw him at the NCA in Bangalore and I am sure that he will go on to represent India for many more years.
Moving on to the upcoming one-day series, I am sure it will be much more closer than the Test series. Sachin Tendulkar's unfortunate hamstring injury gives India an opportunity to experiment a bit with the middle order. It, for instance, will not be a bad idea to give Parthiv a few games in the course of this one-day series.
Before I sign off, let me, then, congratulate Ganguly and the boys for the Test series win. Hope they will continue their scorching run in the one-day series too.
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