Highlights: WI vs India
May 29, 2006
by Aparajith Ramnath
In the time it has taken us at Pavilion Seat to sit back and take a breather, the ODI half of the Indian cricket team’s Caribbean sojourn has drawn to a close. It has been a dramatic series, not least for the manner in which the of late under-performing West Indian team picked itself up, dusted off its worries, and emerged the emphatic victor. India, ranked near the top of the ICC ODI rankings at the start of the series, faltered and failed to produce anything like the form that has led to astounding successes in recent series (notably, all on the subcontinent), giving rise once more to the classic discussion about how they are tigers, but only at home.
Of course, it is important to stay clear of hyperbole and to view the series in perspective. It was, after all, one series; any team can have a bad series. Remember India’s disastrous tour of New Zealand months before its clinical performance in the last World Cup? Viewed through such a lens, the series would show itself, even to the ardent supporter of the Indian team, as one with a lot of interesting highlights worth remembering.
One of these must surely be the sheer confidence exuded by the team under Brian Lara’s calm but assured captaincy. It has been disheartening of late to see the Windies team a pale shadow of its former self, but this time the players drew themselves up to their full heights and stood proud on the field. For a man who took over the captaincy for the nth time amid reports that not all the team members were thrilled with the decision, Lara’s achievement in marshalling his men is no mean one.
Of the individual performances, Dwayne Bravo’s excellent all-round display must naturally figure. Starting with the last-over ball that bowled Yuvraj Singh in the momentum-turning second match, he cleaned up the stumps time and again with different versions of his slower ball. Add to this his excellent back-to-back fifties in the last two matches, and you have a complete performance.
Ramnaresh Sarwan’s dogged vigil at the crease won the Windies two crucial matches and served as a perfect reminder of what the Indian batsmen failed to do: drop anchor. It was a lesson in determination, and playing out perfectly the role one is assigned.
There were, of course, bright spots on the Indian side. Dravid began the series with a match-winning hundred. Kaif emerged from a dismal run of scores to notch up three sixty-plus scores. Yuvraj showed that his development into a reliable middle order batsman is almost complete.
Finally, the sheer spectacle of cricket in the West Indies, the charm of which has been written about a thousand times but still bears mentioning. Swaying all day, playing music, shouting, clapping, the crowds showed us what it means to enjoy the game. The camera stepped back at moments when the game proceeded at a languid pace to show us breathtaking landscapes and sapphire-blue oceans. I can barely think of a better place to watch a Test series.