Karthik takes the spotlight

Dinesh Karthik, with the Man of the Match award.-Pics:PTI

Dinesh Karthik remained unruffled when the wickets of Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Joginder Sharma and Harbhajan Singh tumbled at the other end. The slide was rapid until Karthik found a partner in Ajit Agarkar. A report by G. Viswanath.

After over three years, Barabati Stadium was bustling with activity. One could find policemen all over the place. In fact, the security personnel had a tough time when the left-arm seamer Darren Powell dismissed Gautam Gambhir and the crowd favourite Sourav Ganguly in quick time. A dejected and angry crowd began to throw water sachets at the policemen.

In the midst of all this, Dinesh Karthik went in to bat with just 10 overs completed. Earlier, Powell also took the prize wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian vice-captain went for a drive and lobbed a catch to mid-on.

The pitch — a sub-standard one for an international match as this — was doing all the tricks. The ground was handed over to the curator of Eden Gardens and a member of the BCCI's Pitch and Ground Committee, Prabir Mukerjee, after Orissa had beaten Assam in the semifinal of the Ranji Trophy Plate on January 14. Probably he did not have enough time to prepare a good batting strip.

Ganguly and Tendulkar gave an impression of having fallen victims to the dubious nature of the surface. But nonetheless, Powell and West Indies were happy to get rid of the left-hander for 13 and Tendulkar for his 17th duck in one-day internationals.

Karthik remained unruffled when the wickets of Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Joginder Sharma and Harbhajan Singh tumbled at the other end. The slide was rapid until Karthik found a partner in Ajit Agarkar. Chris Gayle — leading the side for the first time in the absence of Brian Lara, who did not play because of a troublesome knee — made Powell bowl all his 10 overs at a stretch.

A tired Powell dug in a short one — his last ball — but Karthik smartly directed it towards the mid-wicket fence. Powell finished with four for 27, an excellent effort after his three for 33 against Pakistan at Multan in December 2006.

Rahul Dravid is taken to the cleaners by Darren Powell. The West Indies paceman picked up four wickets in the match.-

The dapper and a clever batsman, Karthik also impressed fielding in the inner ring, stopping hard shots at Nagpur. He was quite efficient at the Barabati Stadium too.

Karthik, Robin Uthappa and Suresh Raina saved around 25 runs to make possible an Indian victory in the Pepsi Cup opener.

Karthik proved his mettle in the third Test against South Africa at Cape Town and it is quite likely that he will be a part of the Indian team for quite sometime to come.

He batted stoically for two hours and six minutes in the Cuttack match. The wicket-keeper batsman faced 87 balls and struck seven fours and was adjudged the Man of the Match.

Disappointing was the manner of his dismissal though. Trying to work the ball towards third man in a predetermined fashion, he was bowled by Bradshaw.

Agarkar made 40 runs off 47 balls. He and Karthik added 62 runs which proved crucial in the end.

A contest ensued after Agarkar dismissed Gayle with his first ball, but once the spinners Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh and Tendulkar came into the picture, the West Indies batsmen, barring Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith, faltered.

And of course Shivnarine Chanderpaul was unyielding once again, holding fort for 217 minutes. After the run feast in Nagpur, Barabati was a disappointment though India took a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. During the post match press conference Dravid said: "It's good that we have begun to win close matches.''

THE SCORES

Second ODI, Cuttack, January 24, 2007. India won by 20 runs.

India: S. Ganguly c Morton b Powell 13; G. Gambhir c Ramdin b Bradshaw 2; R. Dravid b Powell 22; S. Tendulkar c D. S. Smith b Powell 0; D. Karthik b Bradshaw 63; M. Dhoni c & b D. R. Smith 6; Joginder Sharma b Powell 1; Harbhajan Singh b Bravo 6; A. Agarkar (run out) 40; R. Powar b Bravo 5; Zaheer Khan (not out) 7; Extras (lb-3, w-20, nb-1) 24. Total (in 48.2 overs) 189.

Fall of wkts: 1-4, 2-35, 3-35, 4-46, 5-66, 6-69, 7-90, 8-152, 9-163.

West Indies bowling: Bradshaw 10-1-38-2; Taylor 10-1-38-0; Powell 10-2-27-4; D. R.Smith 9-1-34-1; Bravo 8.2-1-36-2; Gayle 1-0-13-0.

West Indies: C. Gayle lbw b Agarkar 5; S. Chanderpaul b Zaheer 67; D. S. Smith (run out) 15; M. Samuels c Gambhir b Harbhajan 1; D. Bravo c Gambhir b Powar 31; R. Morton b Powar 0; D. R. Smith c Powar b Tendulkar 25; D. Ramdin b Powar 6; I. Bradshaw c Gambhir b Tendulkar 2; D. Powell (run out) 1; J. Taylor (not out) 2; Extras (b-6, lb-3, w-5) 14. Total (in 48.2 overs) 169.

Fall of wkts: 1-5, 2-41, 3-42, 4-85, 5-89, 6-139, 7-151, 8-163, 9-166.

India bowling: Zaheer 8.2-0-25-1; Agarkar 8-2-23-1; Joginder 4-0-16-0; Harbhajan 10-3-29-1; Powar 10-0-42-3; Tendulkar 8-0-25-2.