Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

What A Start!

The odds were always pointing to an Indian victory, but the target should have been a bit more difficult to achieve had the West Indies managed their innings better.


The placard held up by one of India's supporters read "Zimbabwe went home last week, you're playing India now". Without trying to be cruel to Zimbabwe, everyone concerned, West Indies players and supporters alike would have welcomed the situation. West Indies won all the completed games in that series and we all like winners but the prospect of good entertainment was nil.

What a start to the current series with India, victory off the second last ball of the day to India. Statistically it was a close game but after the West Indies managed to only set India a target of 252 runs in the reduced 45 over game, the odds were always pointing to an Indian victory.

A few hours before the scheduled start, the odds were pointing to an abandoned game with all the rain that had fallen overnight and in the early hours of the morning. No wonder Rahul Dravid invited the West Indies to bat first after winning the toss.

Of course, India might have batted second irrespective of the conditions as they have not lost a game batting second for a long time. This victory makes it 17th in a row, a world record and with their strength in batting there is every prospect of that statistic growing even further.

It was suggested to coach Greg Chappell on a previous tour that maybe India needed to practice batting second purposely to perfect that art as well but as he so rightly put it, they are into winning games and whatever works best is the way to go.

The target should have been a bit more difficult to achieve though had the West Indies managed their innings a bit better. They had a marvellous start with Runako Morton and Chris Gayle laying the foundations with an opening partnership of 87 runs at better than six runs an over.

Dravid would have been disappointed with his opening bowlers as they were unable to control the copious amounts of swing that the humid atmosphere offered and the advantage of winning the toss seemed to evaporate. In all, India conceded 28 extras half of which were no balls and wides but the West Indies did not go on from such a good start.

Brian Lara got 35 off 43 balls but none of the other batsmen in the middle order got anything substantial. It was left to Gayle to contribute more than half of the runs scored off the bat, getting 123 off 131 balls. Only 29 runs in the final five overs and Dravid and the Indian team must have felt that they had been let off the hook.

As the Indian opening bowlers let their captain down, so did the West Indian opening bowlers. Where the Indians were depending on swing and were unable to control it, the West Indians were relying on pace and they too were spraying the ball around.

It took the mature head and control of Ian Bradshaw to come and steady the ship for his captain. However, as long as Dravid stood at the crease, there was no trouble for the Indians.

There were positives for the West Indies but a big positive for the organisers of the World Cup next year was the ability to have such a prompt start after all the overnight and early morning rain as it proved that the work and money spent on the new drainage had worked.



Must Read