The trend of sides successfully chasing big scores was overturned in the seventh and deciding game of the series. The West Indies total was just too much for India and the visitors ran out easy winners as the Indian batting crumbled under pressure.
When the additions and subtractions are made of this game most will agree that it was the final ten overs of the West Indian innings that changed the course of the match. Marlon Samuels was unstoppable as he played shots so exquisitely that even the most avid Indian supporter would have been enchanted. Added to the style was power as he hit some of the biggest sixers seen on Indian grounds.
Ramnaresh Sarwan was consistency personified and with Wavell Hinds also chipping in, the West Indies went past 300 once again in the series. It did not look possible as the heavy-scoring Gayle could not keep a drive off Srinath down and was caught in the covers. That was the only success the veteran pacer had and after a good first spell. He was taken apart in his remaining overs, bowled in one-over spells. As a result Dravid was handicapped into looking for other options to fill up the balance.
If the most experienced bowler’s quota is not going to be utilised fully then the question mark should be a big one. The great Kapil Dev too in his final year was given eight overs at a stretch at the start of the innings and seldom brought on again. But then, he was capable of changing the course of the game with his batting and his fielding was outstanding, which cannot be said of Srinath.
It will only be the TINA (there is no alternative) factor that will help him to keep his place, but the selectors must be a worried lot. India’s strength has been spin and Sarandeep Singh making a comeback showed it with his bowling. Perhaps because he was an unknown factor for the West Indians they played him with caution.
On a pitch where West Indies scored so many, it was felt that the Indians too would be able to help themselves. Unfortunately, the earlier pitches and the nature of field placing in limited-overs cricket does help in the footwork being lazy.
Some days a batsman can get away with it but here the Indian batsmen paid for it by their wickets. Some of the shots clearly exposed the lack of footwork which gets exposed even more in Test cricket where bowlers are striving to get batsmen out, not just to stop the runs.
Bowlers bowling well in limited overs cricket should go on to become good bowlers at Test cricket but the reverse is not necessarily true as far as the batsmen are concerned.
Batsmen do get away in limited overs cricket with no footwork as fielders are in run saving positions and find it a whole diff erent game in the longer version of the game.
It was a comprehensive win for the visitors. Winning a series or a trophy away from home is always special and to beat Indian who have done well in one-dayers recently, would lift the West Indies’ confidence enormously. They have not had the best of luck in the last couple of years and their bowling still needs a lot of work, but the emergence of Lawson and Drakes, though not exactly youngsters, is good news.
This win will give them their self-belief back and with the incomparable Sir Viv Richards at hand to guide them this team could well be the surprise packet in world cricket sooner rather than later.
India need some new faces too but it would be easier to get into MCC than the Indian team for a newcomer.