November 25, 2002

West Indies were worthy winners

It turned out to be an anti-climax at Vijayawada. I had hoped for a close encounter but on the day when it mattered the most, West Indies turned out to be a far better team than India. I must admit, however, that the visitors were worthy winners, for they made a concerted effort to win the all-important decider.

Perhaps, the Indians were done in by their being a touch complacent on the day. While West Indies came out with a definite game-plan, India seemed to have taken it for granted that they could chase any target. As luck would have it, their belief proved misplaced on the day.

It all looked good for India at the start when Dravid called right and elected to chase. Soon, the hosts were on top with West Indies struggling at 16 for the loss of two wickets. But Wavell Hinds and Ramnaresh Sarwan showed admirable temperament; collecting runs through singles and twos - - an important aspect of limited overs cricket.

The lack of boundaries and sixes being scored also seemed to give India in a false sense of security. And it was this aspect of India's game that the West Indies batsmen really exploited.

Marlon Samuels
© Reuters
I haven't seen an innings like the one that Marlon Samuels played at Vijaywada; it was simply breathtaking. In these days of pinchhitters and batsmen slogging for fours and sixes, here was someone whose smashed the opposing attack to smithereens with proper cricketing shots. Samuels is truly a gift to the game of cricket; he is an artist of a rare pedigree, one who can be bracketed along with David Gower and Mark Waugh. He played a match-winning knock, and after that India were never in contention.

I cannot also forget Sarwan's contribution to the West Indies' success . He played yet another gem of a knock. He leaves India as a much-better batsman. Though, he remains guilty of not scoring an international hundred, it is just a matter of time before he succeeds in doing so.

If the West Indies batting was of the highest order, the Indian bowling was a huge letdown. I seriously doubt whether the bowlers had any clue about the line and length that they were required to bowl. A couple of overs from Srinath towards the end were real shockers.

Unlike the usual slower deliveries that international bowlers employ, Srinath's slower one is a bit too apparent and predictable. I hope the Indian team management has taken note of this.

Jermaine Lawson
© Reuters
When India replied. young Jermaine Lawson once again exposed the shortcomings of their batsmen against express pace. Once India had lost the first four wickets to the speedster, any semblance of a chance of them pulling off a successful chase evaporated. If Lawson could destroy India on a placid track, I shudder at the very thought of these batsmen facing up to quick bowling on bouncy tracks.

The series in the end might have ended in disappointment for India but they can take heart from the performances of the likes of Sanjay Bangar and Murali Kartik, who will strengthen India's chances in the World Cup 2003. They, though, need to be supported by a few bowlers who can keep it tight in the end overs. Also, the batsmen have to train and equip themselves to tackle real fast bowling on bouncy tracks.

Let me, then, end by congratulating the West Indies team for ending their tour on a winning note. I am so glad to see the influence of the great Viv Richards on this team. The body language of the West Indies team has changed from that of submissiveness to one bubbling with confidence. This victory should also strengthen the team morale as they did not rely too heavily on Carl Hooper's experience. I hope they take the positives out of this impressive victory and keep the momentum going. The rebirth of Calypso cricket will only do a world of good to the game.