Opportunity lost for India in hard-fought series win
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