India in West Indies 2011

Opportunity lost for India in hard-fought series win

ESPNcricinfo reviews the Test series between West Indies and India

Sriram Veera

July 11, 2011

Comments: 248 | Text size: A | A

The Indian team with the series trophy, West Indies v India, 3rd Test, Dominica, 5th day, July 10, 2011
India won the series without stamping their authority © AFP
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In the end both teams said they are happy. From the outside it appeared West Indies should be a happier unit than India who never quite stamped their authority. They won the series but was that ever in doubt against this West Indies batting line-up? This series was about testing out the youth for India but barring Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma, not many stood up.

And their decision to pull out of the chase on the final evening without really having a go at it was puzzling. And revealing. West Indies lost the ODI and the Test series but they slowly reached a point where they were fighting as a unit. The victory lap with thousands cheering them on at Dominica signalled that. The crowd recognised that the team had fought.

Sometimes the way the opposition views you at the end can give a fair idea about how the battle went. Here is Duncan Fletcher on West Indies: "I think they have improved all the time. I think Ottis Gibson is doing a great job. I have come here before with England and watched them in England and watching the way they just have put it together, they are definitely moving up. I wouldn't like to be another touring side and come out here and face them if this improvement continues. The bowlers did very well. The batters slowly got better and better as the series went. I was also impressed with how they put it together off the field. How they did the warm-ups. They acted as a team and they looked like a professional unit which is good to see."

Here is what Sammy said about India: "With 15 overs to go and 86 runs required, and considering the calibre of players they have like Dhoni and guys who could hit the ball, I thought they would give it a go being one up … I was surprised they shut the shop." India left you with that kind of strange taste in the mouth.

West Indies would have gained a lot from this tour. The bowlers impressed and the middle order is slowly beginning to take a solid shape. Marlon Samuels played an innings of substance in the second Test, Shivnarine Chanderpaul showed he has plenty to offer as a batsman, Darren Bravo showed glimpses of his talent, and Kirk Edwards came to the fore. The main worry will be the openers. Adrian Barath showed he has problems against the seaming delivery and he still hasn't found a stable partner. Sammy led the team with passion, bowled his heart out but as long as he doesn't contribute with the bat, the questions will continue. Ian Bishop, the former West Indies fast bowler, reckons he has done enough to continue in this team as a captain for another year till West Indies unearth another leader.

India's strengths are obvious. Ishant Sharma impressed and the bowlers were pretty good though by the end they were down and out physically. The batting was mixed. Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina did what the other was supposed to do. Many felt Raina would show weakness against the short ball and that Kohli would grab his opportunity. The reverse happened. M Vijay failed, S Badrinath never got a chance in the Tests after his poor performance in the ODIs, Abhinav Mukund showed grit and seized the opportunity.

The series started and ended with two vital dropped catches. If Sammy had caught Rahul Dravid in the first Test who knows what might have happened there? If Dravid had caught Chanderpaul in the final Test what could have been the result? Those turning points indicate how well-fought the games were. India usually always dominated because West Indies' batting was weaker but it wasn't a cakewalk by any means.

India were lifted out of the hole in the first Test by Raina and Harbhajan Singh; Dravid played the rescue act in the second innings; VVS Laxman was the saviour in the second Test. It was never easy. It was that kind of series. The pitches were tilted towards the bowlers and the groundsmen should be thanked for providing us with an enjoyable series.

India won but with this West Indies batting line-up, they would see the 1-0 margin as an opportunity lost.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Hindh on (July 14, 2011, 15:47 GMT)

@popcorn look out for ur aussie team they are getting smashed by everybody. And do not give ponting's example as he is the one who is always against the spirit of the game....

Posted by iamgroot on (July 14, 2011, 13:31 GMT)

@VAS4 What is wrong in supporting dhoni? There was a time in the past when the previous captains were having even better players at their disposal "the legends" and still scraped to escape defeat. But Dhoni as captain has done superbly in past 3 years.Nothing wrong in winning series 1-0 and Indian team did give a go at the win. Its not like they didnt try. Instead of just blindly commenting here it will be better you understand the reasons. 1) Umpiring was POOR so there was always a possibility of BAD decisions going against Indian team 2) BAD Light would have definitely cut off some over. Remember in 2nd test match India didnt get to bowl the 11 overs so it could have happened here too 3) WI bowlers were so scared that they were bowling outside OFF and negative line outside leg stump 4) Suresh Raina was promoted but what happened? He tried to accelerate and looked awful when he got OUT 5) Virat Kohli was not in good touch either 6) Pitch wasn't easy. SO his decision is JUSTIFIED.

Posted by popcorn on (July 14, 2011, 10:18 GMT)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has shown his true colours - a worthless defensive captain - scared of losing.Not confident of his own team. Only talks big.He should learn from the greatest Test Captain EVER - Ricky Ponting, who as Test Captain has the highest number of Test wins,no Captain can catch up with.In the third Test at Sydney, Janary 2 to 6, 2006, Graeme Smith,South Africa's Captain, set Australia 287 runs to win on Day 5. Ricky Ponting, Captain Courageous, scored 140 not out, Mathew Hayden 90, and Australia achieved their target - 2 / 288. THAT is the stuff Champions are made of. Not Captains and Teams more concerned with protecting their 1 - nil series win number. Australia won that series 2 -nil.

Posted by VAS4 on (July 14, 2011, 6:31 GMT)

@samavb, Blindly supporting Dhoni is not the best way to encourage the man or the team. India won or lost was not the question. We question his attitude. He was only looking for 1-0 series win against his name. With a coach like Flutcher and his negetive attitude combined with Dhoni's defensive approach, India's futre is not bright at all. Bishoo did not bowl where Dravid wanted, pitch was not like in ipl, the fielders were close these are all stupid excuses. There were batsmen like Dhoni himself, Bhajji, Virat and Kumar. Like someone rightfully said, Virat had nothing to loose and Bhajji wont mind a swing. The point is there was no intention to win, even against a team like WI. At no point of time India played like no 1 team. People who are supporting the decision are fooling themselves and trying to fool others too.

Posted by Prakmca on (July 14, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

Harbajan was there in the team for nothing...After his 6 wickets in the last test, he had booked his slot for another 20-25 tests to come. Ridiculous. Whats special Dhoni and Selectors seeing in him. Its time to drop him from the tests atleast. He is no more a match winner......

Posted by iamgroot on (July 13, 2011, 22:43 GMT)

Did anyone saw how many umpiring howlers were made during the test series? Second string indian won the series. And how the bad light saved the WI in 2nd test match with bad light. If they continued India would have surely wrapped it especially after taking two quick wickets. Dhoni made a sporting declaration and I felt it wasnt enough and in the end it turned out that Dhoni was right with WI still far from the target. In this test match too India did go for the win and after losing 3 wickets Team management found out that it wasnt worth. When WI is bowling wide outside off and you got badlight coming into play later along with some umpiring howlers all through out the test series. How can anyone think it is easy with pitch and What if Indian team continued and the remaining got few batsman got bad decisions and overs reduced due to bad light? Fact is Dhoni is Smart and best captain and he must have thought all these reasons and more. They won the series and thats GR8

Posted by   on (July 13, 2011, 21:41 GMT)

If the time was not lost due to rain/light, we could have won both test matches despite not having Sehwag, Sachin, Gambhir in the team. Yes this was best bowling attack we have and it struggled to get opposition out in crucial times, but I would give them fair 5 days of play and they would have won all test matches.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2011, 20:36 GMT)

currently v r the world best cricket team in both the formats....i beleive...!as sum people think...india plyed safe or was nt up 2 the mark nd they even nt plyed as the world #1.....bt still this exceptional team became the best team after the wc....nt bef ore....nd the world cup ended just 3 mnths bck nd after that v just played our 1 series against the windies which v woh comfortably bt nt conviencingly,,,..becoz most of our players were on rest nd i beleive this young team played up 2 the mark nd the conclusion could only b derived after the england series....!v only hav 1 reason 2 become a legend means u alwayz hav 2 beat the legend 2 become a legend....!which would b soon done by our team with such a enthusiasm nd poteintial....!

Posted by m_ilind on (July 13, 2011, 20:18 GMT)

Apart from Bhajji & Raina in the first test at Jamaica, India's batting was on the defensive most of the time. The youngsters did not click, and that made the difference in the scoreline from being 3-0 to 1-0. Full credit to WI bowling particularly Fidel Edwards for keeping India's batsmen under control.

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (July 13, 2011, 20:14 GMT)

@Abdul Ansari, looks like you are very much interested to criticize Indian team for that defensive approach. You said Test WINs are important and we can count on fingers. Yes test match so important and such WINs are possible only if we have good test players. But I didn't understand how did you miss the difference between T20, ODI and Test? You are asking a team to score at 6 RPO on a typical WI pitch which no one scored at more than 3 RPO. If you have respect for test players ask Rahul Dravid about that WI pitch. Since you are comparing with IPL and if u have watched last IPL some teams were all out below 100.Can you tell me why is so called great team AUS has debaccled now? Put some common sense besides to following Stats.

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