West Indies v India, 1st ODI, Trinidad June 6, 2011

Dhawan, Sarwan and an indifferent start to the series

The struggles of Shikhar Dhawan and Ramnaresh Sarwan are typical of the struggles of their respective sides: India have done just enough to beat their opposition, while West Indies need a huge lift if they are to compete
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In some ways Shikhar Dhawan and Ramnaresh Sarwan reflect India's and West Indies' start to this series. It's not meant as disrespect but Dhawan bats in the way a good batsman would do when he is out of form. There are occasional flashes of class - a sweet on-the-up punch through point and a caressed off drive - but he would soon relapse into a mini-struggle. The timing flees, the bat-face shuts and he starts to jab and stab. He rarely plays straight. And suddenly, the good shots reappear. Like Dhawan, India neither dominated nor struggled, but did just enough to overcome the opposition. There have been phases where they sparkle interspersed with periods where they slip into autopilot. It's early days yet, and their progress towards domination should be interesting to track.

In domestic cricket Dhawan is a very good player of the pull shot; at times, in the IPL, he was beaten for pace when attempting pulls against international bowlers. In Dhawan, you can see the difference between the first-class and the international level. In Dhawan, you can also see the ambition, and struggle, of a first-class batsman to try bridging that gap. It showed in his reaction when he reached his fifty. With more confidence, he can perhaps bridge the gap. Perhaps. India, though, certainly can do better. They aren't batting as well as they can. It's been said that India has a tendency to raise their game or go down according to the level of the opposition and this series promises more evidence of the same.

West Indies haven't quite got their act together yet. In both games so far, the batsmen have shown an alarming tendency to meander. When Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels were stitching together a sluggish partnership, the local radio crackled with anger and agony. The commentator couldn't hide his disappointment at their approach and said, "It looks as if they are playing for their lives, to stay in the team for the next game".

The pity is that Sarwan, who used to be decent against spin, gives the impression that he is batting from memory. The fluency isn't there. These days, Sarwan has handcuffed himself into almost solely playing square of the wicket. The off drives, on drives and the straight drives are conspicuous by their absence. He looks to cut or square-drive nearly every ball. When the line and the length don't suit those two options, he jabs and remains scoreless. The pressure increases.

Sarwan later said that he wasn't at his best yet. "I'm still not my fluent self, but I will go back to the nets tomorrow. I have a few things I have to work on and be ready for the match on Wednesday. From here on I will be looking to improve even more and do better for the team."

Samuels improved at the end of his knock and Sarwan couldn't quite do it but it's clear that this West Indies team is yet to get confident enough to test India, especially on these slow tracks. Through the Pakistan series and during the first four days of this tour, Sammy has been frank in his assessment of his batsmen's fumbling ways against spin. He has said the right things. That they need to rotate the strike, that they can't get bogged down, that they need to use their feet or sweep and that they are working on all these things with Desmond Haynes in the nets. It hasn't quite translated yet to the middle. The sooner it does, the better it would be for this series.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • skepticaloptimist on June 8, 2011, 1:09 GMT

    @Darshankumaar Bhavsar - Yes, he likes to take his time to get going. But, it should be noted that unlike many others, he settles in by rotating the strike. He doesn't let the pressure build on himself. Considering his big shots, he CAN play the big shots. But if you mean all-muscle slogs, like the ones Gayles, Dhonis, Pollards can play, then, NO, Badri can't play those. I feel that he's more like in Tendulkar mold. Just to clarify, I'm not comparing him to the Great SRT, but I feel that Badri employs the techniques that Tendulkar does, now a days: take the ones and twos, be severe on bad balls, and improvise if needed. @indiazen - I'll rephrase that: those who succeed in Tests can potentially shine in ODIs and T20s. Definitely, the technique is there is you can succeed in tests, but limited over cricket is so, so much about courage. WI seriously need Gayle and Pollard back. They are, despite their inconsistency, WI's match-winners. WI can't afford to keep them out.

  • mithun2880 on June 7, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    I think Sriram Veera haven't read the way pitch was behaving. It was a two paced wicket, also had a tennis ball like bounce after the initial overs.It was unusual to see majority of the batters struggling to time the ball, it wasn't just Dhawan n Sarwan struggling but same followed with the free stroking Rohit Sharma.Also the situation demanded to stay and play yourself before playing some big shots.

  • on June 7, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    @harryrockz ya mate u r sure on badri's ability but he's not sure..he can play those sweeps n reverse but not big shots....when team required more than 8 per over then badri is not ideal..he is better suited to tests..parthiv n badri cant clear fields like dhni n yuvi or sehwag or any hitter....i think in odi uthappa is ideal choice for big hits or rayudu ..

  • mogan707 on June 7, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    I guess the nerves of the batsmen of Indian team still did not settle in.Hope they calm their nerves with this victory and raise their game.

  • Idrique on June 7, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    Bowling came out gud for India but i think we are going to struggle with the batting order throughout the tornament.. there are absolutely no pairs in our team at the moment a pair that can build an innings and take the team through.. it seems like a gud time to experiment.. sending yusuf pathan to open the innings could be one of them..

  • indianzen on June 7, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    I don't know why people compare the formats of the game. only in this sport we have options to change the format of the game. As far as I am concerned players who play good test cricket will definitely shine in ODI and in T20. The fire is missing in the bowling department. No Roach, no Fiddy, no Taylor... Ravi and sarwan are struggling alone...

  • harryrockz on June 7, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    @ Darshankumaar Bhavsar: Sorry but I think you had net followed the IPL. Badrinath can get the big shots. Its not that he is playing an ODI like a 3 day match or a test match. In this match there was time for our batsmen to consolidate and keep the score board ticking. In case our team needs 7 or 8 per over, I am sure that Badri can deliver. He has the capability and has done that in IPL for CSK. He may have been a bit slow bcoz the pitch was like that. It was slow and turning and Bishoo was bowling a good spell. Even Dhawan struggled then. But the difference is Dhawan got a 50 and Badri didn't. But still have to wait for the series to be over to rate the players like Dhawan, Badri, Tiwari, Saha, Vinay Kumar, Parthiv (even though Parthiv has played some series earlier, he is coming back after a hiatus) and Ashwin(he is playing his first full overseas series for India, if I am correct). So don't rate a player on a single performance. wait...

  • Vijayendra on June 7, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Good article Sriram. You're writing some great stuff about this inane and dull series. Yes, Dhawan didn't look the part to be honest. And Sriram aptly put it when he said, "Dhawan's struggles were those of a batsman trying hard to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket". India's opening combination is skewed -- Dhawan and Patel, the two lefties, are not exactly Hayden and Gilchrist. So India will continue to struggle to get out of the blocks with some quick runs at the top. Virat looks like a batsman who wanted a 'break' but couldn't ask! The Caribbeans can be very 'distracting' place when you are out-of-form.

  • Midonoff on June 7, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    I think the WI team bowled well. They just need to get more runs so they can give the bowlers a chance. I like the enthusiasm of Martin. We cannot change a bowler who is doing a good job, is the batsman who has to dig in.

  • RISHI2016 on June 7, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    had mr veera said the same thing if some badrinath would have scored same score like dhawan did ?

  • skepticaloptimist on June 8, 2011, 1:09 GMT

    @Darshankumaar Bhavsar - Yes, he likes to take his time to get going. But, it should be noted that unlike many others, he settles in by rotating the strike. He doesn't let the pressure build on himself. Considering his big shots, he CAN play the big shots. But if you mean all-muscle slogs, like the ones Gayles, Dhonis, Pollards can play, then, NO, Badri can't play those. I feel that he's more like in Tendulkar mold. Just to clarify, I'm not comparing him to the Great SRT, but I feel that Badri employs the techniques that Tendulkar does, now a days: take the ones and twos, be severe on bad balls, and improvise if needed. @indiazen - I'll rephrase that: those who succeed in Tests can potentially shine in ODIs and T20s. Definitely, the technique is there is you can succeed in tests, but limited over cricket is so, so much about courage. WI seriously need Gayle and Pollard back. They are, despite their inconsistency, WI's match-winners. WI can't afford to keep them out.

  • mithun2880 on June 7, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    I think Sriram Veera haven't read the way pitch was behaving. It was a two paced wicket, also had a tennis ball like bounce after the initial overs.It was unusual to see majority of the batters struggling to time the ball, it wasn't just Dhawan n Sarwan struggling but same followed with the free stroking Rohit Sharma.Also the situation demanded to stay and play yourself before playing some big shots.

  • on June 7, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    @harryrockz ya mate u r sure on badri's ability but he's not sure..he can play those sweeps n reverse but not big shots....when team required more than 8 per over then badri is not ideal..he is better suited to tests..parthiv n badri cant clear fields like dhni n yuvi or sehwag or any hitter....i think in odi uthappa is ideal choice for big hits or rayudu ..

  • mogan707 on June 7, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    I guess the nerves of the batsmen of Indian team still did not settle in.Hope they calm their nerves with this victory and raise their game.

  • Idrique on June 7, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    Bowling came out gud for India but i think we are going to struggle with the batting order throughout the tornament.. there are absolutely no pairs in our team at the moment a pair that can build an innings and take the team through.. it seems like a gud time to experiment.. sending yusuf pathan to open the innings could be one of them..

  • indianzen on June 7, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    I don't know why people compare the formats of the game. only in this sport we have options to change the format of the game. As far as I am concerned players who play good test cricket will definitely shine in ODI and in T20. The fire is missing in the bowling department. No Roach, no Fiddy, no Taylor... Ravi and sarwan are struggling alone...

  • harryrockz on June 7, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    @ Darshankumaar Bhavsar: Sorry but I think you had net followed the IPL. Badrinath can get the big shots. Its not that he is playing an ODI like a 3 day match or a test match. In this match there was time for our batsmen to consolidate and keep the score board ticking. In case our team needs 7 or 8 per over, I am sure that Badri can deliver. He has the capability and has done that in IPL for CSK. He may have been a bit slow bcoz the pitch was like that. It was slow and turning and Bishoo was bowling a good spell. Even Dhawan struggled then. But the difference is Dhawan got a 50 and Badri didn't. But still have to wait for the series to be over to rate the players like Dhawan, Badri, Tiwari, Saha, Vinay Kumar, Parthiv (even though Parthiv has played some series earlier, he is coming back after a hiatus) and Ashwin(he is playing his first full overseas series for India, if I am correct). So don't rate a player on a single performance. wait...

  • Vijayendra on June 7, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Good article Sriram. You're writing some great stuff about this inane and dull series. Yes, Dhawan didn't look the part to be honest. And Sriram aptly put it when he said, "Dhawan's struggles were those of a batsman trying hard to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket". India's opening combination is skewed -- Dhawan and Patel, the two lefties, are not exactly Hayden and Gilchrist. So India will continue to struggle to get out of the blocks with some quick runs at the top. Virat looks like a batsman who wanted a 'break' but couldn't ask! The Caribbeans can be very 'distracting' place when you are out-of-form.

  • Midonoff on June 7, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    I think the WI team bowled well. They just need to get more runs so they can give the bowlers a chance. I like the enthusiasm of Martin. We cannot change a bowler who is doing a good job, is the batsman who has to dig in.

  • RISHI2016 on June 7, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    had mr veera said the same thing if some badrinath would have scored same score like dhawan did ?

  • Notredam on June 7, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    I predict series win for India 3:2,, even if gayle or pollard are back..

  • VivGilchrist on June 7, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    @Ryan, Thankyou for calling me a genius. May you be blessed with much future happiness.

  • dragline on June 7, 2011, 3:35 GMT

    my batting order for the next game: simmons, edwards, samuels,darren bravo, sarwan, dwayne bravo, pollard, sammy, ruzzell rampual, and bishoo

  • Ganes.V on June 7, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    It is time WI board sorts out the indifferences with players and pick the right team.i don't see a place for Sammy in their team as of now. There are many other bowlers who can bowl better than him. Pollard SHOULD be in the playing 11.Gayle should open. If the board does not do amends soon this WI team will soon be forgotten and it will kill cricket in WI

  • on June 7, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    Badrinath looks like earlier rahul dravid. Its good to see he has adapt his batting skills towords now a fast cricket. But technically his game more suits towards test cricket. He could be very useful for wicket falling.He can be the wall in test cricket.But if team require to score @ average more than 7 & 8 , he will not be useful anymore as per him batting style. Anyway he have to learn to make the big shots. he can be useful in team anchor role to stop wicket falling & to build the partnership with other player. But required is to keep rotating strike as he is still taking more deliveries dot balls & struggle sometimes to rotate the strike & tickling down the team total average.....he has to prove himself by making any one fast half century atleast in this west indies tour. If he does not do that ....could not expect from him for big shots in crunch situation of ODI match where required runs more thatn average 8~9.

  • dragline on June 7, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    today the selectors surprie everyone. why is carlton bough playing one dayers when simmons could keep wickets? drop bough and bring back pollard. move darren bravo to #4 and let sarwan bat at#3. i find that the coach and captain were tactically weak today. the grounds men did a poor job in preparing a wicket that favors the opposition more than the home team.

  • shawnsundar on June 7, 2011, 2:21 GMT

    Well said cayenne22. I think the people of the West Indies should Demand Change.

  • on June 7, 2011, 2:20 GMT

    @vivgilchrist....genius!!!! I always said that Sammy should open whenever he goes back to 1st division cricket in st.Lucia as this would increase skills in fast bowling and also he'll learn to bat long then eventually playing the spinners. This would translate to a better prepared batsman but yur thoughts here are in the same boat. Pollard would be a better batsman. If it kicks off he'll scorer quicker and release pressure!!

  • cayenne22 on June 7, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    There is alot of money and politics involved therefore they will not put their better players to represent the WI as they the Board will lose out.It is not about winning anymore, as even the dumbest fan can pick a winning WI team.So if the lowest can see what is going on, how can the selectors and board not figure that out and they are supposed to present their best.I am not here to criticize anyone,but it would take a complete imbecile to not see what is taking place.

  • cgtboy87 on June 7, 2011, 1:34 GMT

    pollard is not a 50 over batsman keeep him for the 2020 format.sarwan came in there and did what he had to do get them to that total...the openers have to produce

  • on June 7, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    1 gayle 2 simmons as wk 3 dm bravo 4 sarwan 5 samuels /chanderpaul 6 dj bravo 7 pollard 8 sammy......... 9 any good bowler 10 bishoo 11 rampaul

  • VivGilchrist on June 7, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    KEY TACTICAL MOVE FOR WI - Use Pollard as an ODI opener. It could kick-start his career as well as getting WI off to a quick start.

  • shawnsundar on June 7, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Sarwan should be at #3, he will play his natural game when he's not trying to rebuild from a top order collapse. Can someone tell me what Tiger and Benn did wrong to be dropped???

  • inndman on June 7, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Give me a break guys. Stop blaming the board and the coaching staff, they are not the ones on the field, Sarwan has been batting this way for the past 4 years way before coach Gipson. If a coach ask a batsman to to pick up the scoring rate thats not telling him how to bat. If you going to blame some one blame the players for failing and the selectors for not putting the right team on the field. I am going to give one exampleof how blind the selectors are, in my opinion the best wicketkeeper /batsman in the WI is FLETCHER yet still the selectors continue to waste his talent by playing him in only 20/20 cricket, why is he not in the test team. I am not a big Dwayne Smith fan but after a very good tour of Australia he was drop from the team for what Chris Gayle claims was a rectless shot, well who plays more rectless shots than Chris Gayle.Bottom line is the WI limited overs team will be a better team with Dwayne smith .

  • sudhirrao on June 7, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    If you go by Dhawan's performance in IPL, he takes a few matches to settle down, His 95 in the last match came after a number of indifferent scores.

  • on June 6, 2011, 23:28 GMT

    Why so harsh with Dhawan? He is new guys...give him a few more series and he will learn. Not like he got out, he tried and succeed.

  • hari.pes100 on June 6, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    All the best to Dhawan. I was glad to see two chargers (well one a former charger) doing well in Rohit and Dhawan :). Shows what we missed this season by not retaining Rohit. Hope Mishra can perform well in the coming matches.

  • Balldinho on June 6, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    Marlon Samuels is not a Limited overs Batsman, he bats incredibly Slow and doesn't run between the wickets. Keep him in the Test squad but replace him with Pollard in the ODI's

  • cgtboy87 on June 6, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    the coach is putting too much pressure on the batsman especially when the top order fails.its like they are telling them how to bat.i never see sarwan bat like this before.if coach gibson want to control every aspect of the west indies cricket then he should go out there and bat.. let the guys play to their natural abilities. shiv said they were telling him how to bat when they were in the world cup. its ashame to see such a class batsman like sarwan playing this way.THE PROBLEM IS THE BOARD AND THE COACHING STAFF..THEY JUST NEED TO GO GO GO GO...

  • CricketChat on June 6, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Gayle, Russel, Pollard should be in the WI team for all formats for the Ind tour, while Sarwan, Chanderpaul should be out. WI will most likely lose the series, so why doesn't WI stand up and take the fight to Ind with a bunch of hungry youngsters rather than spent workhorses?.

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  • CricketChat on June 6, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Gayle, Russel, Pollard should be in the WI team for all formats for the Ind tour, while Sarwan, Chanderpaul should be out. WI will most likely lose the series, so why doesn't WI stand up and take the fight to Ind with a bunch of hungry youngsters rather than spent workhorses?.

  • cgtboy87 on June 6, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    the coach is putting too much pressure on the batsman especially when the top order fails.its like they are telling them how to bat.i never see sarwan bat like this before.if coach gibson want to control every aspect of the west indies cricket then he should go out there and bat.. let the guys play to their natural abilities. shiv said they were telling him how to bat when they were in the world cup. its ashame to see such a class batsman like sarwan playing this way.THE PROBLEM IS THE BOARD AND THE COACHING STAFF..THEY JUST NEED TO GO GO GO GO...

  • Balldinho on June 6, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    Marlon Samuels is not a Limited overs Batsman, he bats incredibly Slow and doesn't run between the wickets. Keep him in the Test squad but replace him with Pollard in the ODI's

  • hari.pes100 on June 6, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    All the best to Dhawan. I was glad to see two chargers (well one a former charger) doing well in Rohit and Dhawan :). Shows what we missed this season by not retaining Rohit. Hope Mishra can perform well in the coming matches.

  • on June 6, 2011, 23:28 GMT

    Why so harsh with Dhawan? He is new guys...give him a few more series and he will learn. Not like he got out, he tried and succeed.

  • sudhirrao on June 7, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    If you go by Dhawan's performance in IPL, he takes a few matches to settle down, His 95 in the last match came after a number of indifferent scores.

  • inndman on June 7, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Give me a break guys. Stop blaming the board and the coaching staff, they are not the ones on the field, Sarwan has been batting this way for the past 4 years way before coach Gipson. If a coach ask a batsman to to pick up the scoring rate thats not telling him how to bat. If you going to blame some one blame the players for failing and the selectors for not putting the right team on the field. I am going to give one exampleof how blind the selectors are, in my opinion the best wicketkeeper /batsman in the WI is FLETCHER yet still the selectors continue to waste his talent by playing him in only 20/20 cricket, why is he not in the test team. I am not a big Dwayne Smith fan but after a very good tour of Australia he was drop from the team for what Chris Gayle claims was a rectless shot, well who plays more rectless shots than Chris Gayle.Bottom line is the WI limited overs team will be a better team with Dwayne smith .

  • shawnsundar on June 7, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Sarwan should be at #3, he will play his natural game when he's not trying to rebuild from a top order collapse. Can someone tell me what Tiger and Benn did wrong to be dropped???

  • VivGilchrist on June 7, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    KEY TACTICAL MOVE FOR WI - Use Pollard as an ODI opener. It could kick-start his career as well as getting WI off to a quick start.

  • on June 7, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    1 gayle 2 simmons as wk 3 dm bravo 4 sarwan 5 samuels /chanderpaul 6 dj bravo 7 pollard 8 sammy......... 9 any good bowler 10 bishoo 11 rampaul