Sachin Tendulkar halted and rolled back our advance in the third and final Test at Calcutta, but V.V.S. Laxman too deserves a lot of credit for playing the perfect foil.
We had an improved performance at the majestic Eden Gardens but obviously a win would have been a win. Still, we were able to come back convincingly. There were marked gains in the batting and bowling areas and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Tendulkar was very positive from the start. There was no conscious effort to hold himself back and be a touch negative. He might have been trying to rein himself in lately, wanting to stay put at the crease for long hours to help teamís and his own cause consistency.
I have watched him quite a few times this year and I must say he seemed conscious to play a few more shots in his first hundred. He was a bit more positive. It was a good innings to watch and it was a major difference in this game.
For his good, V.V.S. Laxman played the perfect foil. He was calm and assured. He ground out long hours and helped Tendulkar carve an innings which had the final say on this Test.
Despite Indiaís fightback, I was very impressed with our two new fast bowlers Jermaine Lawson and Darren Powell. They were hungry and willing and were keen to bowl for long periods. They gave a hundred per cent every time and it was refreshing. I have followed their progress in regional competition keenly because they have always looked special to me.
We decided to go for all-pace attack in this Test because history shows our 8-10 wins or near-wins in India have come because of our fast bowlers.
On this tour we decided to include two specialist spinners, Gareth Breese and Mahendra Nagamootoo, and hoped they would come of age. I am not overlooking the fact they could never bowl with the cushion of a 500-run total. Also a lot of catches were popped around. Still, they need to go back and work on their game. West Indies cricket needs to address this area where a top class spinner must put his hand up and perform for teamís good.
We ignored history and decided to include spinners in the early part of the tour because the wickets in the first two Tests looked a lot drier. We wanted a spinner around in the team. But in the end, the bulk of wickets were still taken by fast bowlers.
As for batting, Marlon Samuels was a big plus. There were no collapses, as in two previous Tests, because Samuels played so well at number six. He adapted so well in his first Test innings in alien Indian conditions. Along with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who once again showed his immense value for the team, Samuels revived our innings.
I was in retirement in Australia when Samuels started out his Test career down under. He then toured Sri Lanka and had a couple of games against South Africa. He is good, laid back and relaxed. It was his first first-class hundred and I donít think he has ever managed it for Jamaica.
Chris Gayle too adapted himself perfectly to conditions. He is slowly learning it is not always possible to thrash the bowling around. Sometimes you need to adapt and play according to conditions. He showed it here. Samuels, Gayle and Wavell Hinds hold good for the future of West Indies cricket. As long as they continue to learn that a batsman has to be flexible in his approach. A number of young players are coming through and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the responsibility which will now surely come their way.