West Indies needed 21 runs off 12 balls with one wicket in hand. India's nerves were fraying. It should have never got this close. A crucial choice lay before India, who should bowl the penultimate over? And the meeting of the minds to make this vital decision took forever. MS Dhoni presided over the assembly while Harbhajan and Yuvraj Singh were the most vocal players to attend, firmly backing Ashish Nehra, who was playing his first ODI in four years. Harbhajan whipped off Nehra's cap and then took his position at mid-off. Harbhajan's confidence in the bowler was repaid moments later when Denesh Ramdin lofted a catch straight to him.
David Bernard slipped and fell as he delivered the second ball of the 31st over. As he picked himself off the turf, he realized that his maroon tracks were badly torn near the left knee. Unable to run in with the cloth flapping around, Bernard asked the umpire for help and he resourcefully produced a pair of scissors and cut off the leg of the tracks at the knee. Bernard, to the crowd's delight, was a funny sight, running in to bowl four balls with one leg exposed from the knee and below. He duly trooped off after the end of the over to get a new pair of bottoms.
Ishant Sharma bowled a high full toss at Dwayne Bravo, whose attempt to smash the ball landed in Rohit Sharma's hands at cover. The batsman was confident that it would be called a no-ball, for it was much too high, and the fielder too seemed to think the same way for Rohit did not celebrate the catch but attempted a run out instead. The umpires, though, did not signal a no-ball and gave a disappointed Dwayne his marching orders.
Twenty-year old Darren Bravo, Dwayne's brother, began his ODI career with massive expectations with some people comparing his domestic record and left-hand technique to one Brian Charles Lara before he played the kind of innings that made him the prince of Trinidad. Darren walked out after his brother was dismissed and was credited with runs after his first ball smashed into his boot and went to the fine-leg boundary. His second ball also sped to the boundary but this time off the bat after Darren played a stylish leg glance.
Indians fans have been lamenting the disappearance of the MS Dhoni they know and love in recent months because the nudging and nurdling batsman he has become is a far cry from the flamboyant six-hitter that he was. Those Dhoni fans watching the Sabina Park ODI, however, would have bolted upright after watching the first ball off the 37th over. There was no mistaking that whiplash like scoop. The ball was full, Dhoni had stayed in his crease, got under the ball, and whipped it with tremendous use of his bottom hand over the straight boundary for six. He even allowed himself a smile after the ball cleared the boundary.
It might not work in the absence of Fidel Edwards' raw pace, Michael Holding said about the possibility of the West Indian fast bowlers using the short ball to unsettle India's batsmen like they did in the World Twenty20. Perhaps Jerome Taylor was listening because he bowled a hostile first spell, with speeds reaching 92 mph, on a rather unresponsive pitch. The Indian openers hopped around and eventually Gautam Gambhir flailed at a bouncer and top-edged a hook to midwicket. Rohit Sharma, too, perished against a short ball, one delivered at a gentler pace by Lionel Baker.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo