Fate had a real ball game last night. It kept tipping the scales on to the very last ball played and kept us all wondering in whose favour would the second ODI of the tri series in the West Indies go. In the end it favoured the side which showcased its talent better and some gave a perplexing display of cricket.
It was a different side of West Indies we saw yesterday; and quite literally. Kierron Pollard led the side as Dwayne Bravo nursed his groin injury. Pollard thus was the fifth player in the current team to have captained the team after Gayle, Sammy and Ramdin. Tino Best replaced an injured Ravi Rampaul.
Having won the toss, Pollard challenged the Indians to bat first. The Indian side however, decided to play the same XI that won them the Champions Trophy not more than a week ago. But the fortunes weren’t the same for the side. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was out with a hamstring pull for the second innings and Virat Kohli came in to captain the side on the difficult pitch.
The West Indians made the Indian batsmen toil and toil hard. The Indian team managed to put up 229 runs using all the batsmen they had available, down to Bhuvneshwar Kumar who also hit his first 6 in an ODI.
Here’re the heroes and villains of the match:
Best and Roach – Men of Steel
Having opted to field first, the West Indians made it a tough task for the Indian batsman to score. The track was wet and helped the West Indian bowlers. They restricted India to a seemingly below par score of 229. Leading the aggressive attack were Roach, Sammy, Best and Samuels.
The West Indians hit the mark from the very first over; a maiden from Roach. Roach then went for the in-form batsman Shikhar Dhawan in the fourth over of the match, who played the good length ball straight into Roach’s outstretched hand. Roach also managed to take the crucial wicket of Raina when he looked threatening at 44.
Best had a lazy start with extra deliveries and being hit by the batsmen, but in the end he managed to take the wicket of a limping, hopping Dhoni and then tamed the great finisher Jadeja, hitting the stumps on both occasions.
Not only did Best and Roach contribute with the ball, they also held their nerve while batting. After West Indian middle order had thrown away their wickets with some reckless shots and disturbing timing, these two made the last ten runs in four overs, against an attacking Indian bowling unit looking for the elusive wicket for vicotry. They kept calm and took the West Indians to a memorable finish with 14 balls to spare.
Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina – A few good men
Sharma, despite struggling a lot in the start, found his way to 60, playing some sweet shots with a six in reply to Best’s short ball in the third over. The 60 came off 89 balls, with four 4s, a six and a lot of hard work. But he threw it all away on the last ball of the 30th over with a waste of all the hard work against Sammy. “Why does he hate himself?”, “Why is he on self destruct mode?” are questions that everyone is asking. Find the answers soon Rohit.
Raina, with an average display of batting skills in the recently concluded Champions Trophy, stayed put to make 44 runs with four boundaries, but succumbed to Roach’s ball and went back to the pavilion, hitting his bat in frustration. At least he showed India can still vouch for him to play in the middle.
Johnson Charles is a man so unpredictable, that you could trust the British skies to rain on schedule, but you cannot judge how Charles is going to play out his game. Having played a forgettable innings against Sri Lanka on Friday, Charles started off against India by thrashing 3 consecutive boundaries off the second over of the innings being bowled by a hapless Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
There was a lot more to come. So much so that his first 24 runs came off some beautiful hits off the bat. The bowling clan of Ashwin, Yadav, Jadeja alike looked clueless. And Dinesh Karthik, who replaced an injured Dhoni missed a crucial stumping, that went on to add 4 more runs in the 37th over. Charles marched to a gallant 97 and just when the vuvuzelas reached a deafening din, cheering him on, he lost the plot. He shifted his stance and threw the ball straight into Ishant’s hands. What was done was done. But his innings didn’t go in vain.
Honourable Mention: Umesh Yadav – 3 wickets and not too many runs. Yadav played his part well, only to give away the winning runs.
Indian batting – fatigued?
Perhaps the very first over was a sign of what was to come. The Indian batsmen struggled and how. No moustaches were twirled yesterday when Shikhar Dhawan, from whom much is expected on the back of his performance in the Champions Trophy, gave away his wicket to an ecstatic Roach.
He was followed soon by Virat Kohli, who has been looking more and more uncomfortable on pitches abroad. He must find his form soon. Both the batsmen departed after making 11. The lack of any stable partnership saw India struggle to put up a respectable stand. Dinesh Karthik was too slow for comfort and walked back having contributed just 23 runs off 56 deliveries.
Ravindra Jadeja – Yes sir, no sir?
Disappointed with the bat – could contribute mere 15 runs when India most needed him at the end of the innings.
He also disappointed with the ball, conceding 50 runs and returning without any wickets, when he was pitched to make the most of the slow conditions. There are good days and bad days. This was a bad one for Sir.
Sunil Narine – Surprise, surprise!
The man who played so well in the first match against Sri Lanka failed to take any wickets and conceded too many runs. Also a failure was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who just couldn’t get the same purchase with the ball as Yadav.
The West Indian batsmen deserve a special mention in the failures. While they had Charles at one end who made a cool 97, they had batsmen who threw away their wickets at crucial moments. Ramdin, Pollard, Gayle and Samuels failed to make any significant contribution. Bravo and Sammy found their rhythm only to get out at the most inopportune moments, silencing the vuvuzelas in the stadium. Roach and Best however, showed them how it’s done.