Cricket: India wins Jamaica Test

India team on a Caribbean Cruise (read tour) cruised (read won) in the first test. The victory seemed rather emphatic at first. If you are, someone who really looks at the result then you are narrow minded and too focused only the result. Life like many other phenomenon happening around us at times give results even before it comes to end. We go through hell and heaven everyday, often life happiest and bizarre moments seem to be sew together, it very difficult to spot the difference even under the lens of time.

However, Indian victories in overseas test use to be rare celebrations. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. We won the Caribbean tour (not cruise) the last time we toured there. We have test series win in Pakistan and England; we have won matches in Australia and South
Africa where it was considered blasphemous even to think India could win a test. There are many factors for this, more experienced battery of seamers. The Indian batsmen now don’t turn cherry red with shyness when they see green pitch. The team has a settled batting
opening pair (not in this case) of Gambhir and Sehwag. A very dependable and a broad middle order of Dravid, Laxman, and Tendulkar,not in that order. It started with Ganguly who challenged everybody (except himself) around him. He did great things as a captain but it didn’t translate for Ganguly the batsman while he was leading the team. Dravid was the architect for many of those victories.

Monday morning blues.

A new Monday and three new caps – Mukund, Kohli and Praveen Kumar made their test match debut. Mukund play for Tamil Nadu, Praveen Kumar has been a bit of a protégé who can swing the ball. Kohli has gone from strength to strength. I am not workaholic and Monday morning till the morning coffee in office often overflows with agony. It was agonizing to see batsmen came and go to needless shots. Vijay had just creamed Rampaul for a delightful extra cover drive. He fell trying to ride the bounce and getting caught at point. Mukund, was bowled, beaten for pace. Laxman and Dhoni didn’t do much. Dravid seemed in control, but got out for 40, Virat Kohli
played what was to be a listless debut. It was lunch at Sabina Park and I struggled to gulp down my dinner. India 86/6. I never curse the Monday morning louder. I wonder whose idea it was to start a Test match on  a Monday morning.

Bhajji Raina turn the tide.

Bhajji’s decline as a bowler has given rise to Bhajji the batsman. He increasingly looks to compensate his waning bowling prowess with his thumping batting. He had a 146 run partnership with Raina, The partnership saw the change in momentum. A greedy Indian cricket
follower would have liked both of them getting centuries. It wasn’t to be. Bhajji’s hitting helped us ramp up the runs and the run rate. Bhajji’s sense of timing as a batsman is very good. It was a very compelling and a crucial partnership and helped India recover and post a decent score of 246. It was pitch with variable bounce and spin. The ball kept swinging all day. West Indies lack the inspiration within their batting ranks. Ishant Sharma making a comeback and Praveen Kumar is on a debut. There was a lot on twitter to be follow as the test match unfolded. It was an interesting observation that I read – Dravid, Laxman, Dhoni perhaps the best India players of spin (playing in this series) were out to West Indian leggie, Bishoo.

The fragile West Indies batting

A fragile batting has a new name. Once famous calypso batting is now synonymous to fragile, benign, and spineless entity. There is no more Fire in the Babylon, it’s turned in ashes and dust. There was a time when no one wanted to play West Indies because of the brute, hard hitting batting orders and charged up bowling attack. The times have changed and no one wants to play West Indies, because of their batting offers a boring and lacklustre display. It doesn’t matter if they are 250 for 2 in the first innings of the match. The Windies batting collapses are as recurring as digits in the fraction of 1/3. West Indies batting has been in turmoil and decay. I wonder if the rot can ever be stopped. There are a few bits and pieces there may be a Gayle or a Sarwan but collectively they are far too less then the sum of the parts. The question is can couple of batsman stand up to the challenge of building an innings of batting the sessions of tests. I mean all the West Indies batsmen need to do is to forge partnerships look to bat for time, play percentage cricketing shots. I guess that has to be tackled at the formative stages. I don’t know much about the setup of their first class cricket setup and people who are running it. It is
alright to talk about going back to the drawing board. But some sense and determination and perseverance has to prevail for pride to return to West Indies cricket.

West Indies started with caution, Adrian Barath impressed, but that’s about it, Chanderpaul and Bravo meanwhile did look to get a partnership going, it did for a while but then it was not too long before wickets went in a heap. The scenario had changed completely in a day of test match cricket as West Indies ship was sinking on the Jamaican port. West Indies innings folded for 173, giving an invaluable lead of 70 runs at the end of the first innings

Slipping over the same banana skin.

It is something for everyone to see, Indians begin there third innings with a mini collapse. Murali Vijay went in the second over without scoring, I wonder if he had got time after getting out, to see Dravid play and learnt a few things on how to build an innings. Mukund did the hard part only to falter when he should have kicked on. Dravid edged one but was dropped, by Sammy. Laxamn still to get a feel to score freely on the number 4 slot. A lesson perhaps to shift Kohli at 4 and Laxman followed by Dhoni and then Raina, for this series. Dravid bottled one end up, while the shots were played from the other end. Dhoni shot when he got out was futile one. Raina was
unlucky so was perhaps Bhajji. Harper being the culprit. Amit Mishra played some really good shots against Edwards, Indian tail rattling the opposition. Dravid meanwhile played a calm hand and kept ensuring the West Indies don’t have a chance to to comeback. He was out
trying to up the ante. Dravid reached a hundred with a single and know has notched up 32 centuries.

West Indies second innings, another collapse.
Sarwan and Chanderpaul have scored heavily against India, Chanderapul hardly gets out against India. The two look really out of place in this series. But I think the best combination and batting order for West Indies could be Gayle, Barath, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Lendl, Baugh, Sammy, Bishoo, Rampaul, Roach, Edwards. But in this innings, West Indies did start in the top gear, and the fifty was up in no time, Sharma getting some stick but Praveen Kumar and Sharma stuck at the end of the third day Windies reached 133 for 3. Chanderapul and Darren Bravo on to the crease. The first session of the fourth morning saw as many as six batsmen make an appearance leave without making an impression. The game was sealed soon after lunch and India secured what seemed an easy win.

There is often a case that we may learn from defeat/loss. There is a likely hood we may consciously over look a few things when we are in a ascendancy. The fact is opening slot doesn’t look good. Laxman and Dravid were playing a test match any practice match. Bhajji
and Mishra have there work cut out. I consider Bhajji very luck even to be in the squad let alone playing. Bhajji’s admirable batting performance is not to big to cover for his inability to take wickets especially against teams not adapt at playing spin. This tour cannot be taken as just another assignment before the English tour. The condition there would be anything that the Indian would be seeing in West Indies. Munaf should replace Bhajji in the next match.Raina looks more likely to take wickets on current form.

Indians got a deserving break to acclimatize, Windies may spend some time to ponder about their next game plan. I don’t know what wrong. But I would like to believe cricket needs three to five teams challenge each other at par for cricket to sustain test matches, Aussies were by far the number one team for better part of last 15 years, but at present there is a let down. Poms did win a couple of match and series. SAfs do really well at home, Morkel and Steyn will blast most batting line ups. Pakistan are more mercurial then quick silver. Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman will retire inevitably. This would be like two Wisden record books going out of circulation. I mean
imagine your team devoid of nearly 35,000 runs, 450 tests, 250 and more catches, 80 test centuries, and handful of wickets. The probable fillers of these shoes would spell like Raina, Pujara, Kohli, Sharma, probably Rayudu etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thats my Indian cricket team. Like this :))