If the second test was a damp squib, the third one was a touch incredulous one. The weather helped Windies escape to a draw in the second test and we made the chase a bit of hay in the last innings of the last test of this series. Then in hindsight, a series win was more important, considering the squad Indian team had. If we (cricket fans) were told before the World Cup that Indians would win series in West Indies (both 3-2 in ODIs and 1-0 in Tests) without, Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Zaheer, and/or Yuvraj, we would have said yes.
What cost us the match?
I think we bowled well enough to restrict the Windies to a paltry score of around 200 and then followed it up with an indifferent batting performance in our first innings display, which really cost us the match. Indians should have score in excess of 450 or more but no one really stuck around to build an innings. Dravid got out to a superb incutter by Sammy, before he was set. The others played got in but seem to get out before then could get a big score.Mukund, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni all score gritty fifties, but no one could steer the ship home and seal the match. Laxman got out to a bizarre dismissal, Mukund got out to a freakish one. Kohli and Vijay have spent more hours chasing the leather in the field. Then the Windies were in the game and then bowlers stuck to their task kept plugging away, even Bhajji was amongst the wickets. A few dropped catches of Chanderpaul only helped the Windies cause. Powell and Chanderpaul made sure there was only one impending result, a DRAW. It was the ordinary first innings when we let an opportunity to pile a big lead to pass by; a mammoth score would always have kept Windies under pressure to survive and and play second fiddle. It wasn’t to be. Chanderpaul woke up to the fact that he was playing against India, he woke up and celebrated it with a signature century, against his favourite opposition. But then he was offered more than one life and to his credit, he did maximize it to the maximum good.
The score Indians were left to chase at 4.5 an over. It would have looked different if one had done a Sehwag. But I think anything over 160 is the last session at more than 4.5 is asking a bit too much when people batting are looking for survival at the shores rather than adventure of the high seas.
The gains from the series.
It was good series for Laxman and Dravid and Raina making runs, Dhoni got back after a couple of ordinary tests, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma were a definite plus from this series. Mukund looked good. I wonder if there is a choice between Mukund and Raina if Sehwag is half-fit to play the first test in England.
This series would also be remembered for spat between Gayle and Windies board. I think the best playing 11 should have the following players Gayle Bharath, Samuels, Chanderpaul. Bravo, Baugh, Sammy, Edwards, Roach, Bishoo, Rampaul. The bowling looks good, tail can wag. If Gayle gives a decent start, Sammy and Bravo would want to carry it forward. There is pace in Roach and Edwards, Bishoo has done well and will scythe through a non-sub continental team. Bishoo has played in back-to-back Test series against Pakistan and India. He would have learned more about himself and his bowling in last two and half months than any other time while learning his trade. The insipid Windies betting must shrug themselves and getting back to being Calypso (jive and tango) from being Collapse (stumbling and bemusing).