Done in by the long break

Runako Morton and Ramnaresh Sarwan... their partnership virtually took the match away from India.-AP

Playing its second match of the tournament, against the West Indies, after a gap of 11 days, India appeared out of sorts and put up a mediocre show, writes G. Viswanath.

Brian Lara was a happy man after his team managed to pull off another victory against India, in a crucial match of the ICC Champions Trophy. Every time the West Indies skipper was asked at press conferences as to what made his team shift into overdrive against India, Lara, without hesitating even for a moment, would point to Greg Chappell's remark after India's victory over West Indies at Sabina Park last May, that the team had forgotten how to win. Lara referred to the Indian coach's remark once again after West Indies defeated India by three wickets at Motera.

Clearly the Indian team, returning to the competition after a long break, looked out of sorts. Rahul Dravid & Co. arrived in Ahmedabad four days before the match against West Indies and spent valuable time at the nets. They also played a warm-up match.

On the eve of the crucial match Chappell did some tough talking with the Indian players. The coach's intention was to spur some of the players before the match.

However, as a result of the long break the Indians lost their footing and put up a very mediocre performance.

In fact, the match itself was very ordinary, much to the utter disappointment of the 40,000-odd spectators.

West Indies, of course, was very pleased on earning a berth in the semi-finals following the victory, which was largely possible because of the steady partnership between Ramnaresh Sarwan and Runako Morton.

Right from the qualifying stage of the competition, Lara had been stating that his team was the defending champion. He also reminded his players of this fact in an attempt to boost their confidence.

Troubled by back spasm in the course of his brilliant effort against Australia, it was almost certain that Lara would not be taking the field against India. "I cannot make an all-out effort so late,'' was what he said at the pre-match press conference when asked if he would go through a full session at the nets.

Lara then surprised everyone by going out for the toss.

After all the drama India lost Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Sachin Tendulkar soon, and the pressure immediately told on Dravid and Yuvraj Singh. As Jerome Taylor, Ian Bradshaw and Dwayne Smith avoided bowling at the pads, it was not easy for the batsmen to work the ball on the on side.

Dravid and Yuvraj, though, played some hard cricket and repaired the damage to an extent before the left-hander spooned a catch to mid-off.

Dravid had the wherewithal to deal with the situation, but his dismissal — run out after a disastrous call from Dhoni for a quick single — plunged India into deep trouble. Though Dhoni scored a half-century and helped India to 223, the total was far from challenging.

West Indies made a good start with Shivrnarine Chanderpaul scoring a half-century and Chris Gayle blasting a quick 34. Thereafter Sarwan and Morton steadily hauled West Indies ahead, before a few more wickets fell.

And suddenly, West Indies appeared to be pressing the panic button before Lara struck a boundary to ease the pressure. Marlon Samuels then took his team past the finish line.

THE SCORES

Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad, October 26.

West Indies won by three wickets.

India: V. Sehwag lbw b Taylor 17; S. Tendulkar b Bradshaw 29; I. Pathan b Bradshaw 0; R. Dravid (run out) 49; Yuvraj Singh c Bravo b Bradshaw 27; M. S. Dhoni (run out) 51; S. Raina st. Baugh b Samuels 19; Harbhajan Singh b Taylor 15; A. Agarkar (run out) 1; R. P. Singh (not out) 0; Extras (lb-3, w-11, nb-1) 15. Total (for nine wkts, 50 overs) 223.

Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-27, 3-69, 4-130, 5-131, 6-164, 7-213, 8-223, 9-223.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 10-2-33-2; Bradshaw 10-0-30-3; Smith 10-1-37-0; Bravo 7-0-51-0; Samuels 9-0-35-1; Gayle 4-0-34-0.

West Indies: C. Gayle c R. P. Singh b Patel 34; S. Chanderpaul c Dravid b Sehwag 51; D. Bravo lbw b Harbhajan 16; R. Sarwan (run out) 53; R. Morton lbw b Agarkar 45; B. Lara b Pathan 5; M. Samuels (not out) 5; D. Smith b Agarkar 0; C. Baugh (not out) 1; Extras (lb-2, w-12) 14. Total (for seven wkts, 49.4 overs) 224.

Fall of wickets: 1-43, 2-100, 3-120, 4-212, 5-218, 6-219, 7-219.

India bowling: Pathan 5-0-34-1; Patel 8-2-29-1; Agarkar 9.4-1-52-2; R. P. Singh 4-0-29-0; Harbhajan 10-1-27-1; Sehwag 10-0-36-1; Yuvraj 3-0-15-0.