A hard-earned win, no doubt

VIJAY LOKAPALLY

THE emotional outburst of the Indians said it all. After the Test win at the Queens Park Oval, the Indian team had struggled to get its act together. The frustration had grown after the loss at Kingston when the Indians could have benefited from the rain but then they lacked the desire to fight.

The one-day series had been keenly looked forward to by Sourav Gangly and his men. "We couldn't have gone back without winning something and it was a nice way to end the tour with a victory," said skipper Sourav Ganguly.

The jubilant Indian team.-V. V. KRISHNAN

It was a hard-earned win no doubt and it brought out the discipline and commitment from every member on the field. The coach John Wright had made the team realise the importance of winning the series for the billion people back home, not to forget the 1500-odd who had descended on Trinidad to cheer the team.

Wright told the players the significance of picking a role for each of them. "It always helps to play collectively," has been Wright's motto and the Indian team discovered the mantra in time.

There were moments when the West Indies threatened to spoil the Indian party but this time Ganguly and his men had marked a role for themselves. "It always becomes easy if the players mark their roles," said Wright on the eve of the match. Well, it was a tribute to his hard work with the players that they responded in such a splendid manner.

The contest began in excellent weather and India did well to post a total of 260. It was just the target to create pressure on the opposition and once the Indian bowlers stuck to a tight line and length the West Indians found the going tough.

There was a lot of purpose in the manner in which the Indians went about the job. The focus was on not letting the pressure ease after having been shown the way by Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. It was the batsmanship of these two which was a key factor, because it was essential that India had the total to give its bowlers some cushion.

Ganguly's was a disciplined performance and it showed the character in the skipper. The character to lead from the front. He had looked despondent after losing the fourth match of the series but recovered to play the key role in this deciding contest.

Tendulkar during his knock of 65.-V. V. KRISHNAN

Ganguly's innings was as important as Tendulkar's, for it gave the confidence to the bowlers. They did not let their skipper down and gave a much-improved performance. Ashish Nehra, often ignored by the team management, made his contribution; so did Ajit Agarkar, who looked a bowler in control of things. Agarkar's presence lent teeth to the attack no doubt with Zaheer Khan showing shades of inconsistency.

The West Indies messed up its chances when the openers, Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds, failed to get going. A lot depended on the openers but they succumbed in trying their shots too early in the innings. Those two wickets showed the team the direction and Ganguly ensured that the focus was not lost by the team at any stage.

The Indian top order got into its rhythm but did not maintain it. Virender Sehwag got out when in full flow; Ganguly lost his wicket when he had the bowlers at his mercy; Tendulkar threw his wicket away when another 20 runs from him would have been in keeping with the demand of the situation and Dinesh Mongia too lost his wicket when set for a big innings.

V. V. KRISHNAN

Dillon has just taken the wicket of Ganguly who made a fine 56. Dillon finished with five wickets in the match.

Still, India managed a decent total and the bowlers were too happy to defend it. The fielding was good in patches but it rose to the occasion when it mattered. Yuveraj Singh's run out of Mervyn Dillon showed the difference youth can make in the field and some of the stops that the Indians made augured well. There was a minor scare for India when Shivnarine Chanderpaul cut loose. He smashed a six and a boundary but then it was going to be tough on him to maintain the scoring spree. He ultimately holed out, much to the relief of the Indian team. It was the wicket they needed most the entire series and had to work hard even towards the end of it. The Indians won the series 2-1 and quite deservingly too.

India: S. Ganguly c Sarwan b Dillon 56; V. Sehwag c Gayle b Dillon 32; D. Mongia c Gayle b Collymore 28; S. Tendulkar b Dillon 65; R. Dravid c Sarwan b Hooper 20; Yuveraj Singh b Gayle 10; M. Kaif b Gayle 17; A. Agarkar c Hooper b Dillon 3; Harbhajan Singh (not out) 5; Zaheer Khan c Collins b Dillon 4; A. Nehra b Gayle 0. Extras (lb-8, nb-4, w-8) 20. Total (in 50 overs) 260.

Fall of wickets: 1-43, 2-105, 3-141, 4-187, 5-212, 6-239, 7-248, 8-248, 9-254.

West Indies bowling: Dillon 10-1-52-5, Cuffy 9-0-45-0, Collymore 8-0-42-1, Collins 10-1-46-0, Hooper 8-0-41-1, Gayle 5-0-26-3.

Sehwag is all set to take the catch, while batsman Wavell Hinds watches anxiously. Nehra is the bowler.-V. V. KRISHNAN

West Indies: C. Gayle b Zaheer 3; W. Hinds c Sehwag b Nehra 2; R. Sarwan b Harbhajan 32; B. Lara c Mongia b Tendulkar 36; C. Hooper c Sehwag b Agarkar 1; S. Chanderpaul c Ganguly b Harbhajan 51; R. Jacobs c Harbhajan b Agarkar 36; M. Dillon (run out) 0; P. Collins b Agarkar 9; C. Collymore (not out) 0; C. Cuffy c Agarkar b Nehra 7. Extras (b-2, lb-3, w-9) 14. Total (in 36.2 overs) 191.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-12, 3-73, 4-76, 5-88, 6-159, 7-162, 8-184, 9-184.

India bowling: Nehra 5.2-0-25-2, Zaheer 7-1-32-1, Agarkar 8-0-33-3, Harbhajan 9-0-55-2, Sehwag 4-0-21-0, Tendulkar 3-0-20-1.

They make an impact

THERE was celebration at the end of the series in the Indian dressing room. Sourav Ganguly had been adjudged the Man of the Series and Sachin Tendulkar the Man of the Match. It was a fitting finale that India won the match and the individual honours too. After the disappointments of the Test series, this was a moment to rejoice indeed.

From the time they got together to fashion some grand opening partnerships, Tendulkar and Ganguly have had their impact in the team's progress in limited overs cricket. For Ganguly, the journey has been quite demanding but he has charted his course with the skills of a professional.

When many players have broken down with injuries, it is indeed amazing that Ganguly, considered a laid-back character, has managed to keep himself fit and has managed to protect himself from injuries. It is a compliment to his determination really that Ganguly often comes up with some big efforts when the situation demands.

Tendulkar's commitment to the team is above everything. He had missed the fourth match of the series due to a shoulder strain but was just waiting for an opportunity to step on to the field and serve his team. When suggestions were made to Tendulkar to try and adapt to the new batting order, he readily agreed in the team's interest. It made more sense if Tendulkar waited in the wings and finished the job. Often the team was putting itself under pressure when Tendulkar would get out early but once he agreed, the confidence of the others went up considerably. If there was a collapse at the top, they knew that Tendulkar was around to take charge in the middle overs.

Ganguly being adjudged the Man of the Series was in keeping with his performance. He had led well, even though at times he gave vent to his temper, on the field, but he never lost his focus. His sequence of scores - 41, 39 and 56 - showed his consistency and it was in the team's interest that there was recognition for Ganguly. He had worked hard for it and deserved it every bit. For Tendulkar, it was one more addition to the glittering collection of Man of the Match awards. This was as worthy as any because it came when the team needed him to perform. And Tendulkar did not let down his fan club in the dressing room. It was not the usual aggressive Tendulkar knock but one which was based on discipline. He was not averse to grind and wait for the loose deliveries. His level of concentration was fierce and just the motivation for the team to raise its level.