After having won the first two Test matches so convincingly, all that
remained to be seen was whether India would make it a 3-0 clean sweep
of the series. West Indies for the best part of this Test series had
struggled in all departments of the game, and there were no way one
could see them avoiding a rout when the Test started. But all credit
to the to the tourists, they proved a lot of people, me included,
wrong by scrapping hard at Eden Gardens.
The reason why one tends to be so pessimistic while rating the chances
of Carl Hooper's men is simple. They do not have the firepower when it
comes to fast bowling. And with their batting struggling on most
occasions that leaves them in a very helpless situation indeed. Even
in Eden Gardens where they performed creditably, one could not help
but be shocked by the sight of the likes of Cameron Cuffy trundling in
and bowling medium-pace. Take it from me that the West Indies can
never regain their lost glory if their fast bowlers continue to
perform in this vein.
Moving on to the Test, the one thing that struck me the most was the
improvement in the West Indies fielding. A few crucial catches were
taken, unlike in Chennai. Their bowlers also did a good job to
restrict India to 275/6 on the first day, before failing rather
dramatically on the second day. This enabled the Indian tail to wag
merrily - Parthiv Patel and Javagal Srinath were allowed the luxury of
free hits as India posted a healthy total.
That said the contribution of Sanjay Bangar at the top of the Indian
order must not be forgotten. He may not be the most attractive stroke
player in the team, but Bangar makes up for all that by doing a
tremendous job as an opening batsman. Not only did he top score with
77 but he also carried out the important job of seeing off the new
ball. One look at the second innings failure of Bangar at Kolkata and
the events that followed proves Bangar's importance to this team.
When the West Indies replied, their batsmen showed commendable
application. They were helped to no small extent by the lack of
discipline in the Indian bowling. I am not too sure why our spin
bowlers occasionally tend to forget the virtue of bowling a good line
and length. But they sure did make the task of Wavell Hinds, Chris
Gayle and Marlon Samuels easier.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul's success was an entirely different matter. He
is a tough cookie and relishes playing against India, as evidenced by
the fact that five out of his six centuries have come against them.
His first hundred in the land of his ancestors must always remain an
especially sweet one for him.
Looking back at the Test series, it was a very good one for India.
Sehwag and Bangar have emerged as a formidable opening pair. Barring
the unlucky Sourav Ganguly, all batsmen got big scores. Even the
bowling department did very well; I am impressed with the way Zaheer
Khan bowled in the first two games. And the two spinners Harbhajan
Singh and Anil Kumble were just too good for the West Indies batsmen
on helpful tracks.
Parthiv Patel has emerged as a stronger cricketer and has cemented his
place in this Indian Test team. He has been a revelation behind the
stumps - trust me it is not an easy task to keep when the ball is
jumping and turning. The kid has developed a great deal since I first
saw him at the NCA in Bangalore and I am sure that he will go on to
represent India for many more years.
Moving on to the upcoming one-day series, I am sure it will be much
more closer than the Test series. Sachin Tendulkar's unfortunate
hamstring injury gives India an opportunity to experiment a bit with
the middle order. It, for instance, will not be a bad idea to give
Parthiv a few games in the course of this one-day series.
Before I sign off, let me, then, congratulate Ganguly and the boys for
the Test series win. Hope they will continue their scorching run in
the one-day series too.