Can it be said that the Indian victory in the first Test by an innings and 112 runs in about three and a half days is a trendsetter for the series? From the West Indian point of view, one fears it could well be. There was little in their showing at the Wankhede stadium to suggest that they could avoid an Indian clean sweep in the three-match series, let alone turn things around.

Carl Hooper
© Reuters
I had stated in my preview of the series that it was a debatable point whether the current squad or Alvin Kallicharran's side of 1978-79, the only one to lose a series here, was the weakest-ever West Indian team to visit India. To me, the debate has already ended. Carl Hooper's squad is undoubtedly the most emaciated to visit these shores. It is not just the margin of victory ­ the first innings defeat by the West Indies against India in 76 Tests ­ that suggests this. It was the sheer spinelessness of their showing, the sheer gutlessness of it all, that makes this side a shadow of the great West Indian teams in the past, particularly those that came over in 1958-59, 1966-67 and 1983-84.

The 1978-79 side, bereft as it was of the Packer stars, still had a few things going for them. They had a batsman (Bacchus) capable of battling it out for 8-1/2 hours to score 250 and another (Kallicharran) capable of hitting 187. The captain scored 538 runs in the series while Sylvester Clarke got 21 wickets. The side took the first innings lead in three successive Tests, avoided defeat in five of the six Tests and notched up totals of 493, 437, 327 and 452 for eight.

One cannot see any player in the current side notch up figures even half as impressive (considering it is a three-Test series). It is also highly improbable that Carl Hooper's squad will avoid defeats in the remaining two Tests. Already, there are visions of a repeat of the whitewash the Indians inflicted on England in 1992-93 and Sri Lanka the following season and not without reason.

One does not wish to be over critical of this West Indian side that has severe limitations. The fact that this is West Indies' 24th loss in 28 away Tests in the last five years is a tell-tale sign of how they have flopped repeatedly while playing outside the Caribbean islands. In the sub-continent, in particular, the West Indies have an abysmal record, having lost all three Tests to Pakistan in 1997 and then having suffered a similar loss in Sri Lanka last year. Now they seem clearly headed for another such humiliating rout in India.

Indian spinners have always done well against the West Indies. From Subash Gupte in the fifties to the spin quartet in the sixties and seventies, from a 19-year-old debutant leg spinner in Narendra Hirwani in the eighties to Anil Kumble and Venkatpathi Raju in the nineties, the best of the West Indian batsmen have faltered against Indian spin. Given this background, it is perhaps too much to expect the current West Indian side to get the better of Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

Even when they are on the attack, the batsmen look vulnerable. They do not give the impression of having the bowling at their mercy like a Clive Lloyd or Vivian Richards did. For example, even when Wavell Hinds was going hammer and tongs at the bowling in the second innings, it always looked like his tenure at the crease would be cut short and sure enough, he was foxed by Harbhajan.

This side obviously depends heavily on Hooper and Chanderpaul. The rest of the batsmen look good enough for 30s and 40s and that is not enough to deter the Indians. Moreover, Kumble and Harbhajan have already got a psychological hold over the visiting batsmen and they are not bowlers who will let the advantage slip.

Which is indeed what the Indian team itself will have to do. The home side is infinitely stronger in all departments and it is important that a sense of complacency does not creep in. If the bowlers have the West Indian batsmen in a stranglehold, the batsmen have also won the psychological battle.

Rahul Dravid
© CricInfo
Dillon, Cuffy and Collins must be having nightmares while thinking of a strategy to keep the rampaging Virendra Sehwag in check. Rahul Dravid, one hundred away from equaling Everton Weekes' famous record that has stood for over half a century, is not the kind of batsman who loses focus of such things. And of course the Indian line-up is replete with stars who possess twinkling footwork, impeccable technique, an insatiable appetite for runs and the capabilities to make mincemeat of this West Indian attack. The very fact that Hooper had to use nine bowlers on the first day itself when the visitors captured just two wickets exposed the paucity of firepower in the bowling department.

To complete the lamentable picture, the West Indians cut a sorry figure in the field. One lost count of the dropped catches and the sloppy misfielding. With the batting, bowling and fielding in a shambles, the West Indies will have to bring about a metamorphosis in their play to engineer a turnabout. And to be candid, this side does not have it in them to work such miracles.