Profitable outing

The victorious Indian team.-AP

India fought well to triumph 2-1 in the four-match ODI series in the West Indies. It was essentially a three-match affair with rain preventing more than a handful of overs in the final game at St. Lucia.

After the nightmare of the ICC World Twenty20, India fought well to triumph 2-1 in the four-match ODI series in the West Indies. It was essentially a three-match affair with rain preventing more than a handful of overs in the final game at St. Lucia.

In the line of fire, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni displayed character. He put a price on his wicket and his 95 in the second ODI was much about commitment and resolve.

Along the way in his career, Dhoni has sacrificed some of his flair and big-hitting prowess for greater solidity. While this has impacted his batting adversely in Twenty20 cricket, Dhoni’s methods make him a formidable batsman in the one-day variety where there is more space and time to build an innings.

Of course, Dhoni pulled off the most important shot of the series, a whipped six in the final over of the dramatic rain-affected game at St. Lucia. Going into the last over of the third ODI, the Indian captain must have been under enormous pressure. His powerful wrists came to the fore as he picked Jerome Taylor from a shade outside the off and sent the ball soaring over the ropes.

Dhoni has been through a lot in the days leading to the short series in the West Indies, his side coming up woefully short in the ICC World Twenty20. Some of the team members were under an injury cloud and Dhoni implored his men not to hide fitness issues.

The Indian captain himself appeared to have done in his ankle while sprinting and then throwing the ball in the first ODI at Kingston. He must have been in pain but carried on.

His gravity defying act in the third ODI at St. Lucia was a wonderful effort of athleticism and reflexes. Dhoni was at full stretch — between the non-existent first and second slips — and the ball was travelling rapidly. He came up with the ball nestled in his gloves.

Although his decision to bat in the second ODI backfired, Dhoni had his moments as captain. And there was some reward for him and his men at the end of it all.

Of course, the presence of Dinesh Karthik in the XI took some pressure off Dhoni; in the event of the skipper picking up an injury, Karthik could don the big gloves.

Karthik did not have to keep wickets but batted with a lot of spunk as an opener. With Sehwag missing from the line-up, the little batsman batted with footwork and assurance. Importantly, he handled the short-pitched stuff from the quicks well and was effective with his horizontal bat shots.

He does not lack in confidence either. Karthik cover-drove by getting to the pitch of the ball and employed the back-footed strokes — the cut and the pull — with aplomb. Karthik was balanced while essaying the on-side strokes and consistently pierced the gaps during the power-play overs. He is sound technically and his batting bristles with possibilities. Karthik, on his return, was a definite gain for India from the series.

Ashish Nehra is older than Karthik but his comeback was just as zestful. The talented left-arm paceman’s career has been blighted by injuries but he has displayed the resilience to fight his way back. The experienced paceman is a crafty bowler who can vary his pace and length in the end overs. Nehra’s yorkers were on target.

He is still sharp enough to make the batsmen hurry their strokes and Nehra’s duels with the explosive Chris Gayle proved engrossing. Gayle landed a few big hits but Nehra also got his man.

Nehra took on the responsibility of being the leader of a rather inexperienced Indian pace pack that missed Zaheer Khan and appeared to enjoy the challenge. His ability to swing the ball into the right-hander will always make him a threat.

When things became tight following an unexpected West Indian resurgence in the first ODI, the team kept its faith in Nehra during the final overs and was the better off for it.

Yuvraj had a hand in Nehra bowling the penultimate over after a rather lengthy meeting of the senior team members. Earlier in the day, the left-hander had conjured a century of maturity and brilliant shot-making on either side of the wicket.

He is a natural riding on his skills. at least in the shorter formats of the game. Yuvraj disrupts the rhythm of the attack, provides the innings momentum. He strikes the ball with effortless ease and radiates confidence.

Despite the series victory, there were still areas of concern for the Indians. The side allowed the game to drift in the first ODI after making a mountain of runs and sending the best of the West Indian batsmen back to the hut. A certain slackness, disturbing in nature, crept in before Nehra pulled it back.

Then, when there was some juice in the pitch early on during the second ODI, much of India’s top and middle-order came apart. Jerome Taylor and Ravi Rampaul got the ball to jag around and extracted some bounce as well. In conditions that favour the pacemen, the Indian batting can still be vulnerable.

Under the circumstances, the West Indians missed the pace, bounce and firepower of the injured Fidel Edwards; the West Indian quick is nursing a back injury. It was Edwards’ speed — around 150 kmph — and his wicked lift off the pitch that hurt India during the duel at Lord’s in the ICC World Twenty20.

To his credit, Rampaul, a rather under-rated paceman, bowled with verve to strike at the beginning and the end of the innings in the second ODI. He gets movement off the pitch and bowls at a lively pace. Gayle erred by not giving Rampaul the final over in the third ODI when he had easily been more impressive than the rather erratic Taylor during the innings.

The West Indian batting lacked cohesion. Gayle could not inflict as much damage as he is capable of while Ramnaresh Sarwan batted fluently before running himself out as he has often done in his career.

Runako Morton, converted as an opener, fired in the second game where the West Indians, despite the Indian recovery, did not have to chase too many runs. Morton’s batting is more about determination than typical West Indian flair.

That flair was evident in Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo’s younger brother, during his cameo in the third ODI.

A sizzling cover-drive and two straight hits on either side of the bowler reflected the left-hander’s quality.

Dwanyne Bravo had his moments but the West Indians missed another all-rounder in Darren Sammy.

It can be said that the West Indians were undone by the revised target for the Indians in the truncated third ODI but India and Dhoni seized the moment.

THE SCORES First ODI. India won by 20 runs.

India: D. Karthik c Ramdin b Bernard 67; G. Gambhir c D. J. Bravo b Taylor 13; R. Sharma c D. J. Bravo b Baker 4; Yuvraj Singh c Ramdin b D. J. Bravo 131; M. Dhoni (run out) 41; R. Jadeja c Ramdin b D. J. Bravo 0; Y. Pathan (not out) 40; Harbhajan Singh (not out) 21; Extras (b-1, lb-8, w-10, nb-3) 22. Total (for six wkts., in 50 overs) 339.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-32, 3-167, 4-253, 5-253, 6-298.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 10-1-74-1; Baker 9-0-62-1; D. J. Bravo 10-0-66-2; Bernard 8-0-50-1; Benn 10-0-50-0; Gayle 3-0-28-0.

West Indies: C. Gayle c Harbhajan b Nehra 37; R. Morton c Dhoni b Pathan 42; R. Sarwan (run out) 45; S. Chanderpaul c Jadeja b Pathan 63; D. J. Bravo c R. Sharma b I. Sharma 8; D. M. Bravo c R. P. Singh b Harbhajan 19; J. Taylor lbw b Pathan 21; D. Ramdin c Harbhajan b Nehra 29; D. Bernard c R. Sharma b Nehra 19; S. Benn b R. P. Singh 7; L. Baker (not out) 0; Extras (b-4, lb-4, w-19, nb-2) 29. Total (in 48.1 overs) 319.

Fall of wickets: 1-65, 2-100, 3-151, 4-188, 5-224, 6-241, 7-250, 8-294, 9-318.

India bowling: R. P. Singh 7-0-44-1; Nehra 7.1-1-49-3; I. Sharma 5-0-38-1; Jadeja 7-1-34-0; Pathan 8-0-56-3; Harbhajan 10-0-56-1; Yuvraj 4-0-34-0.


Second ODI. West Indies won by eight wickets.

India: D. Karthik c Ramdin b Taylor 4; G. Gambhir c Ramdin b Rampaul 0; R. Sharma c Morton b Rampaul 0; Yuvraj Singh c Ramdin b Taylor 35; M. Dhoni b Taylor 95; Y. Pathan c Gayle b D. J. Bravo 0; R. Jadeja c Ramdin b Rampaul 7; Harbhajan Singh c Ramdin b D. J. Bravo 7; P. Kumar c Gayle b Rampaul 1; R. P. Singh c Benn b D. J. Bravo 23; A. Nehra (not out) 0; Extras (lb-4, w-12) 16. Total (in 48.2 overs) 188.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-6, 3-7, 4-54, 5-57, 6-70, 7-81, 8-82, 9-183.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 9.2-0-35-3; Rampaul 10-2-37-4; D. J. Bravo 9-0-26-3; Benn 10-1-37-0; Bernard 7-0-36-0; Gayle 3-0-13-0.

West Indies: C. Gayle c Gambhir b R. Sharma 64; R. Morton (not out) 85; R. Sarwan st. Dhoni b R. Sharma 15; S. Chanderpaul (not out) 18; Extras (lb-5, w-4, nb-1) 10. Total (for two wkts., in 34.1 overs) 192.

Fall of wickets: 1-101, 2-132.

India bowling: P. Kumar 7-1-37-0; Nehra 4-0-36-0; R. P. Singh 3-0-15-0; Pathan 2-0-15-0; Harbhajan 8.1-0-45-0; R. Sharma 8-0-27-2; Jadeja 2-0-12-0.


Third ODI. India won by six wickets (D/L method).

West Indies (27 overs maximum): C. Gayle c Dhoni b Nehra 27; R. Morton st. Dhoni b Harbhajan 22; R. Sarwan (run out) 62; S. Chanderpaul c Nehra b Pathan 15; D. J. Bravo c Dhoni b Nehra 14; D. M. Bravo b Nehra 21; D. Ramdin (not out) 14; J. E. Taylor c I. Sharma b Harbhajan 1; Extras (lb-7, w-2, nb-1) 10. Total (for seven wkts., in 27 overs) 186.

Fall of wickets: 1-27, 2-78, 3-125, 4-135, 5-170, 6-173, 7-186.

India bowling: I. Sharma 5-0-35-0; A. Nehra 5-1-21-3; R. P. Singh 5-0-34-0; Harbhajan 5-0-35-2; Yuvraj 2-0-19-0; R. Sharma 1-0-7-0; Pathan 4-0-28-1.

India (target 159 from 22 overs): D. Karthik (run out) 47; G. Gambhir c Ramdin b Benn 44; M. Dhoni (not out) 46; Yuvraj Singh c D. M. Bravo b Bernard 2; R. Sharma c Bernard b D. J. Bravo 11; Y. Pathan (not out) 1; Extras (lb-4, w-3, nb-1) 8. Total (for four wkts., in 21.5 overs) 159.

Fall of wickets: 1-84, 2-108, 3-117, 4-148.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 3.5-0-39-0; Rampaul 4-0-26-0; D. J. Bravo 4-0-27-1; Bernard 3-0-21-1; Benn 5-0-31-1; Gayle 2-0-11-0.


Fourth ODI. No result (Rain forces abandonment).

West Indies: C. Gayle c Dhoni b I. Sharma 0; R. Morton (not out) 12; R. Sarwan (not out) 12; Extras (lb-1, w-1, nb-1) 3. Total (for one wkt., in 7.3 overs) 27.

Fall of wicket: 1-0.

India bowling: I. Sharma 4-0-17-1; Nehra 3.3-1-9-0.

A Special Correspondent