If Chris was a gale, Wavell was a tornado

G. VISWANATH

CHRIS GAYLE and Wavell Hinds did a good turn for the West Indies at the IPCL Ground, Baroda. Gayle, the run-machine, scored his third century in four matches and along with the explosive Hinds put on the most vital stand of the match to place his team on course to victory.

Wavell Hinds gave the West Indies an explosive start.-VIVEK BENDRE

The win by five wickets left Carl Hooper a happy man. "We are back to winning ways. We had planned to restrict India to 270, but they made 290. But then, it was not difficult to chase a big target. It had happened before," said Hooper. It was for the fifth straight time in the TVS Cup that the team batting second had won the match. The result put the West Indies 3-2 up in the 7-match series.

The three matches in Gujarat had followed a pattern, with good pitches being rolled out for the batsmen to plunder. The home team made 290 in Baroda and this was not enough to pin down the West Indies.

Gayle and Hinds cut loose to make 132 for the first wicket and Gayle (101, 107b, 10x4, 3x6) carried on his good work before umpire Asoka de Silva responded favourably to off-spinner Harbhajan's appeal for a catch at the wicket. Gayle was surprised, but he had to leave the scene, well before the time the umpire would have taken his attitude as a note of dissent.

Speed has been an element in this tournament, though it has been illustrated only by the batsmen of both the teams, not the bowlers. Virender Sehwag proved that he has gone beyond the realms of his belligerent knocks being mere 'purple patches' or 'flashes in the pan'. He made a breezy half century, ten boundary shots (9x4, 1x6) taking him to his 50 off just 37 balls. At the other end Ganguly cut his counterpart Hooper to size taking three fours in a single over for the run rate to pick up.

Chris Gayle (being congratulated by Shivnarine Chanderpaul) went on to score yet another century.-VIVEK BENDRE

India was sitting pretty at 88 in 10 overs and four balls when Sehwag chipped Corey Collymore into the hands of Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid on. A feature of India's campaign in the TVS Cup has been the consistent performance of Venkat Sai Laxman; five months ago the stylish Hyderabad batsman was cooling his heels in the dressing room in the NatWest Trophy triseries. Things have changed dramatically for Laxman.

At No. 3 he has held the India innings together and on more than two occasions he has been associated in good partnerships with Rahul Dravid. His contribution of 71 was weighty, but it came in 101 balls. Collymore, Hooper, Gayle and Samuels backed up by sprightly fielding in the long field and sweeper positions restricted India to 290 in 48 overs, the match reduced by two overs because of heavy dewfall.

Pedro Collins picked up three wickets, one of his victims being Mohammed Kaif.-VIVEK BENDRE

India took the field with Laxmipathy Balaji, a 21-year-old seamer from Tamil Nadu. Probably, it was not the appropriate time for him to be given the India cap because the West Indies batsmen had been in excellent form. First Ajit Agarkar was dropped from the team and then Ashish Nehra was dropped from the XI. As it transpired, Gayle and Hinds spoiled Balaji's debut, toying with his bowling.

Srinath gave away 36 runs from his first five overs and Balaji 35 from his first 18 balls. To say that Gayle and Hinds were in form would be an understatement. Hinds was precise in the execution of his shots, as was Gayle. But Hinds has the habit of getting carried away and while trying to attack Sehwag he top-edged the offbreak bowler to Ganguly at slip.

The Indians are cock-a-hoop after Sourav Ganguly had caught Marlon Samuels off Harbhajan Singh.-VIVEK BENDRE

The partnership was broken, but it was a day when Gayle had decided to put his head down and make sure that the West Indies - which reached the halfway mark by the 22nd over - would win the match with a good number of wickets to spare. Marlon Samuels failed again. Chanderpaul, too, did not make many runs. But the ever dependable Ramnaresh Sarwan batted in his usual confident style. Gayle, meanwhile, completed his fourth century and the third in four matches against India. His aggregate of 423 runs took his tally for the year to 934 from 18 matches. Hooper, who will not travel with the team to Bangladesh, was delighted that his openers did all the hard work and made possible a West Indian victory.

When the West Indies scored the last run and won the match, only seven balls were left to be bowled. The first spells of Srinath and Balaji turned out to be too expensive for India to recover in the middle overs. Kartik bowled well and for the first time the prospect of him holding his place in the team looked bright.

It's curtains for Sanjay Bangar as Ridley Jacobs runs him out.-VIVEK BENDRE

After the match the national selectors decided to rest Ganguly for the last two internationals. The selectors also recalled Ajit Agarkar, Sarandip Singh and Reetinder Singh Sodhi. "He (Ganguly) needs rest," said the BCCI Honorary Secretary, Mr. S. Karunakaran Nair.

The scores:

India: S. Ganguly b Hooper 53; V. Sehwag c Chanderpaul b Collymore 52; V. V. S. Laxman c Hooper b Collins 71; R. Dravid c Gayle b Samuels 33; M. Kaif c Sarwan b Collins 4; Yuveraj Singh c Hooper b Collymore 15; S. Bangar (run out) 27; M. Kartik c Jacobs b Collins 11; J. Srinath (not out) 3; Harbhajan Singh (not out) 1. Extras (b-2, lb-7, nb-5, w-6) 20. Total (for eight wkts in 48 overs) 290.

Fall of wickets: 1-88, 2-134, 3-212, 4-223, 5-232, 6-254, 7-285, 8-286.

West Indies bowling: Collins 9-0-60-3, Drakes 3-0-17-0, Collymore 10-0-56-2, W. Hinds 1-0-16-0, Hooper 9-1-41-1, Gayle 8-0-44-0, Samuels 8-0-47-1.

West Indies: C. Gayle c Dravid b Harbhajan 101; W. Hinds c Ganguly b Sehwag 80; M. Samuels c Ganguly b Harbhajan 1; R. Sarwan c Ganguly b Kartik 34; S. Chanderpaul (run out) 8; R. Powell (not out) 30; C. Hooper (not out) 21. Extras (lb-3, nb-4, w-9) 16. Total (for five wkts in 46.5 overs) 291.

Fall of wickets: 1-132, 2-135, 3-218, 4-239, 5-239.

India bowling: Srinath 6-0-42-0, Balaji 4-0-44-0, Bangar 1-0-6-0, Harbhajan 10-1-53-2, Sehwag 9. 5-0-55-1, Kartik 10-0-38-1, Yuveraj 3-0-18-0, Laxman 1-0-8-0, Ganguly 2-0-24-0.

'Attack', his hallmark

"GREAT batting often has the beauty of the blast or the grandeur of the gale," wrote Robertson-Glasgow in a short profile on George Headley. Wavell Hinds' 61-ball 80 (10x4, 5x6) resembled a blast at the IPCL Ground, Baroda in the fifth match of the TVS Cup series. For once, Wavell Hinds, who made 93 in the opening one-dayer at Jamshedpur, but never cornered the limelight because the likes of Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan loomed large, was chosen as the 'Victor' Man of the Match by former South African all rounder and Match Referee for the India - West Indies series, Mike Procter.

After Hinds departed from the scene of action, Gayle went on to make his third century against India, but on a track that did offer some assistance to the spinners, Hinds' potential to outscore the in-form Gayle came to the fore in a cavalier display of batting.

Six years ago the manager of the West Indies team, David Holford, ascribed the decline of West Indies cricket to the absence of backfoot players. Well, if there's anything common between Hinds and Gayle, it is their ability to rock on the backfoot and hit the ball at will to any part of the field. Both are tall and as a convention tall players are naturally inclined to drive off the front foot. Gayle and Hinds are adept at this, too. They also comfortably judged the length and put the ball away to the fence, quickly moving back and waiting for it to come.

In the previous match at Rajkot, Hinds had looked ominous, executing three pull shots off Javagal Srinath, the second of which sailed over the fence. It was his folly, driving at a wide delivery from Srinath, that spelt his doom. He had made 27 off 24 balls, but at Baroda he took a high percentage of the strike and was in the forefront of the West Indies run chase of 291.

Hinds made the most of some offerings from Srinath, while Gayle enjoyed some free hits off debutant Laxmipathy Balaji. The 21-year-old freshman tried a few slower ones, but it was unfortunate that he was up against two openers who were playing the new ball so well. Hinds realised that there's scope for playing his natural game when the ball was hard and he gave full vent to his strokeplay.

The Jamaican had been inconsistent in his previous 58 appearances for the West Indies. He had made just one century. That was in his 13th match when he made an undefeated 116 against Zimbabwe at his home ground at Sabina Park. Thereafter he has come close to repeating the feat twice and that's at Jamshedpur and Baroda. In Test matches, however, he has a slightly better record, making three centuries; 165 against Pakistan at the Kensington Oval, 113 against India at Sabina Park followed by a 100 at the Eden Gardens.

Hinds has given the impression of playing or perishing. He has made good starts, but has not gone on to convert them into big scores consistently. His scintillating 80 was his ninth half century in 59 matches. The contrast between him and Gayle was evident with Gayle dropping anchor and proceeding to make 101 before umpire Asoka de Silva ruled him out, caught by Rahul Dravid at the wicket.

The West Indies ended a clear-cut winner by five wickets at Baroda. A target of 291 did not appear to be easy, but Hinds was like a tinder box ready to catch fire. He thumped the ball and the very fact that he smashed five sixes explained the power he generated while lifting the ball.

The West Indies owes its success in the one-day series to the form of Gayle and Hinds. The two have been helped by some lovely batting pitches and bowling that's lacked penetration. But it's been the case with the West Indies bowlers, too. The West Indies will look upon these two to deliver in the remaining part of the series and in the World Cup in South Africa.