India in West Indies 2011 July 11, 2011

Chances grabbed and missed

ESPNcricinfo reviews the performances of the India players in the Tests against West Indies

Abhinav Mukund seized the opportunity
Abhinav impressed with his grit. He looks a player who is not going to dazzle your senses with his strokeplay but someone who will squeeze the most of his talent to do the job. With M Vijay's failure, Abhinav has grabbed his chance to become the third opener. He got a start in the first Test, moved on a little further in the second and made a fifty in the third Test, showing consistent improvement.

M Vijay let himself down
This was a big chance for Vijay to nail the third opener's spot. It was a rare full series that he got but his technique against the moving ball proved iffy. He was almost a walking wicket to Ravi Rampaul and couldn't handle the seaming pitches in the first two Tests. He showed considerable grit in the first innings of the second Test when he hung around for a couple of hours in tough conditions but couldn't convert it. By the end of the series, he had dropped out of selectorial favour. He will look back and see this tour as a great opportunity lost.

Rahul Dravid carried on
Dravid showed his class and worth in the second innings of the first Test. It was a knock from the Dravid school of batting. This was an important series for him ahead of the England tour. It was his chance to get back into touch and form considering the last he played for India was way back in January, and he did not disappoint.

So did VVS Laxman
Laxman remained the crisis man for India and there was no surprise to anyone when he played that knock in the second Test. If it can be said, his defensive technique seems to have become better over the years. He used to have the itch to play at most deliveries earlier in his career but nowadays he is showing greater restraint. It is something that will serve him well in England.

Virat Kohli got a reality check
It was expected by many that Kohli will grab his chance in this series and put further pressure on the likes of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh. He hasn't done that. The way he played the short ball in the first Test surprised many and he failed to convert his starts after that. In a chat he said he was perhaps too defensive in his mindset and had psyched himself too much about the shift to Test cricket. In that context, this series must have been a great learning and humbling experience. It can only help him.

Suresh Raina impressed
This could have been the series where Raina slipped and fell. Instead, he has put himself at the top of the contenders list for the middle order. He showed impressive patience in seaming conditions, a big heart in how he played the short ball, and a hunger to succeed. England will be a sterner test but Raina showed here that he is eager to stake his Test claim.

Dhoni was the usual Dhoni
Dhoni continued to be a batsman who does well in patches in Test cricket. He breaks an almost anonymous run of innings with one substantial knock and this series was no different. Just when you began to notice his lack of contributions he came up with a good effort in the final Test.

Harbhajan Singh was relieved
Harbhajan couldn't forgive himself how he missed out on taking a bunch of wickets in Jamaica and was made to wait till the third Test to reach the 400 mark. His best effort came on the fourth day of the final Test. He turned in stirring spells throughout the day and even tormented Shivnarine Chanderpaul. He was lacklustre on the final day, though, and continued to stick to the leg-stump line plan to Fidel Edwards even when it was evident that it wasn't working. Perhaps he, like the rest of the bowlers, was too tired by then. He will look back at this series with relief that the burden of reaching the landmark is over.

Ishant Sharma rediscovered himself
Ishant found his rhythm. The pitches were conducive and the West Indies batsmen didn't offer great resistance in the first two Tests but with Ishant it was almost an inner battle. The wrist position at the release, the run-up, the rhythm and all those things that were clearly out of place in recent times were at an ideal state in this series. How he will fare against tougher opposition, only time will tell. He hit the deck, bowled with a lot of heart and with a better understanding and control over his art. The only worrying thing was he looked dead tired by the fourth day of the final Test. India will still have to preserve him and look after him even though he has made rapid strides in the fitness department.

Hard luck for Munaf Patel
Unfortunately Munaf missed the first two Tests that were played on helpful tracks. He was the best seamer on view when the pitch was at its most sluggish phase on the fourth day of the third Test. Ishant seemed spent by then and Praveen Kumar was thwarted by the conditions but Munaf extracted something from the dull surface.

Praveen Kumar took his chance
Praveen showed that he should have got the Test chance earlier than this. India had turned to Jaidev Unadkat before him. Praveen grabbed the chances on offer and impressed in the first two Tests with his ability to move the ball around. India might well be tempted to see how he bowls in English conditions. He could just do the job that RP Singh did so well on their previous tour of England.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2011, 14:03 GMT

    Kohli's success in ODIs and Raina's grit in tests show the value of international experience, and proves those two as only genuine contenders for batting slots apart from Pujara. Mukund showed some progress through the series. Ishant and Sreesanth need to complement their obvious skills and learn all they can from Zaheer. Munaf and Praveen would remain the next bests though a yard or two of pace would be welcome. Unfortunately as it happens with plenty of choices Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary and M Vijay (curiously) seem to have struggled to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket. As Dravid, Laxman, Zaheer and Tendulkar phase themselves out - let's be thankful for an era where they plied their trade together.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    Look at the Big names mentioned in this article & tell me why is the Indian team called a 2nd string team. WI is ranked #7. And without Gayle, Bravo sr, and Taylor, what would u call it? WI almost embarrassed the #1 team.

  • Srinivas on July 12, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    @Yash Ranade...are you serious? That is exactly what was said about Mohammad Asif (before the scandal) and look how successful the pairing of Amir and Asif proved to be (before the scandal). Asif also bowls in low 80s to high 70s. He is by no means a tear away but brilliant swing bowler.

    One thing I give you is that English conditions become sub-continental conditions towards the end of summer (starting July). So, we can expect to see bat dominating. However, I think PK adds a lot of value with his ability to swing. He has proved thus, by bowling his life out on Indian pitches in Ranji trophy. UP did not become Ranji contenders just for their batting. They had PK.

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2011, 19:24 GMT

    The way the team is going is fine but the pace attack is still something we need to focus on. They should add the tailender knocking out deliveries in their armory. It is really sad that the same story where tailenders put up fight against Indian attacks and take the test away from India continues. I still remember 4 wickets left and whole last day still Pakistan managed a draw. In the last test Fidel Edwards put up a fight. This is something not expected of the no.1 test team in the world.

  • Tapan on July 12, 2011, 18:38 GMT

    @Manish Hemdev -- Since 2008 when Ganguly retired youngsters have been given enough chance to prove their capabilities and truly speaking if you can't take your chances for so long then their is surly a problem.

    Youngsters are good but GOOD is enemy of BEST

  • aravamuthan on July 12, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    I am very happy for Praveen Kumar. Its nice to see this swinger perform in TESTS. After the legend Kapil Dev Nikanj and the likes of Manoj Prabhakar, we saw glimmer of hope in Irfan Pathan. Alas he seem to have lost his magic and gone into wilderness. Praveen, always a force to reckon with, will have more reasons to be happy in seaming wickets of England, That's for sure. Hope he gets into the XI ahead of much-hyped Sreesanth.

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2011, 16:48 GMT

    Raina technique has been pointed out by purists as one that will likely fail in tests. The same was said about Sehwag when he first came into the picture. How wrong has Sehwag proved them. In a less spectacular fashion..Raina has proved purists wrong. He may have shortcomings as test batter but he has grit, determination and fire to succeed and learn from mistakes.Mukund was impressive but looks like he is born at wrong time with Sehwag/Gambhir as openers for next 4 years atleast. Kohli will learn and he has potential and this series was an eye opener for him.Ishant and PK will trouble English batsman if green tracks are provided assuming ZAK will be back as third semamer. Either Munaf and Sreesanth can play 4th seamers role in England and England might just be forced to make a bit less greener tracks or repent.Bhajji needs to rediscover his mojo or some new spinners are knocking on the doors. Rahane and Pujara are 2 other good prospects waiting in wings for the Wall to retire.

  • Balraj on July 12, 2011, 14:16 GMT

    I agree with the author on most of the assessment apart from a few facts. None of the new comers cant honestlu say that they can replace either Dravid or Laxman. Strnage some have critised Dravid. take away both Laxman and Dravid , India would have even struggled more. Bhajji has taken a few wicets but on many occasions lacks bite. India lacked a bowler of the calibre of Kumble. They failed to win the test as they were unable to take last two wickets quickly. All the bowlers looked lost. Dhoni needs to contribute regularily not once in a while. I don't think Mukund is a third opener yet. Parthive can be the third opener if given a chnce to prove. He seems to lack support othewise In third test he should have been picked ( I am not sure that he was with the team). In all the three tests inaptitude of the openers used was ruthlessly exposed and Dravid had to pick up the pieces.

  • Steve on July 12, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    The next two yrs could be a watershed moment in Ind cricket for next decade. Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Zaheer and conceivably 2/3 other established players could retire or go out. Ind selectors need to offer chances to multitude of promising players to prove themselves without destabilizing the balance of the team. With the talent Ind has, I have no doubt they will be in the top 3/4 for next decade.

  • Dummy4 on July 12, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    I don't think we should include Praveen in the squad. He lacks in pace and he is a collingwood type of bowler. He won't trouble the English in their home conditions much.

    Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth seems to be the most successful Indian pace attack over recent times. They can be quite a handful if Zak does what he does best. Ishant gets bounce. And Sree gets the outswinger going at 140+

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