Needs more than divine intervention
Second ODI, Visakhapatnam: West Indies Tour of India
India have gone 2-0 in a largely insignificant ODI series, that involves one young side that is intent on keeping their fans interested atleast in the limited-over format, and another young side that continues to live in denial about the fact that they have been in ‘transition’ for 15 years now.
It is, no doubt, quite disheartening to see an absolutely toothless West Indian side- full of happy faces and fun-loving souls, characterized by none other than possibly the worst captain in modern Cricket Darren Sammy (an overall ‘nice guy’, though). One has lost count of the number of times he has spoken about how ‘competitive’ and ‘close’ they are running this young aggressive Indian side. The point being, West Indies have gotten close for so long, that even they’re starting to wonder why they try.
Having a Ball with the Bat
Friday night at Visakhapatnam was yet another example of how much thrill and satisfaction this below-par West Indian batting line-up can provide to a neutral spectator- without even trying. After an almighty collapse that left them reeling at 170-9 in 37 overs, that must have had Rohit Sharma wondering if his match-saving services would even be needed- a little known tail ender (pre-Wankhede) named Ravi Rampaul (notice the irony) combined with a spirited Kemar Roach…with the BAT. A world record partnership and some of the cleanest lower-order hitting later, West Indies not only played their entire quota of 50 overs, but also finished with quite a formidable 269-9. Well, it was a par score- but the problem with this team is that they are such experts at digging themselves a hole time and again, that a fightback is sometimes mistaken for a miraculous winning performance. Hence, 269 looked like a lot more than it actually was, simply because they had no business getting there in first place. To watch Virender Sehwag continuously attack, with innovative field-placements and bowling changes even when there were a few wickets left, was a welcoming sight after watching Chief Dhoni’s recent travails to meeker, safer lands. Not once did Sehwag get defensive, inspite of Ashwin and Aaron being tonked all around the city (duly reminding them that International cricket isn’t that kind after all), and Rampaul rode his luck to smash a wonderfully electric 88- finishing off with a six for good measure.
The Find of the Year
When Mahela Jayawardena hit a six to finish off the first innings of the World Cup Final back in April after lifting his side from the doldrums to snatch some much-needed momentum going into the dugout, Team India seemed destined to finish second best. It is interesting to note that things like momentum, sloppy phases in the field and a bad patch in a game don’t seem to affect the mental state of the batsmen anymore. We all know what happened later, and the Mahela-blitz was a forgotten memory soon after.
Similarly, Rampaul’s turbo-charged blast was swatted aside with utter contempt by the calm, composed and resourceful partnership between two young Indian batsmen that are battling for a single vacant test spot. Rohit Sharma continued his Chanderpaul-isque hold over his favorite opposition this year, and Virat Kohli scored his 8th ODI Century in his 73rd game. To put things into perspective, Sachin Tendulkar didn’t score his first till his 79th game. Aided by some generous spills in the field, Kohli marched on in his head-to-head battle, stretching this war- labeled as grit v/s elegance- into the next ODI in Ahmedabad. The Team management won’t be complaining though: healthy competition seems to be pushing the ODI team to new heights- with this being their 11th consecutive win at home.
Tickets for the 4th ODI (Indore) are being sold on our website, and believe me when I say this- Snap them up, because in all likelihood, the series will be over by then- compelling West Indies to go into ‘dead rubber’ mode and playing like they have nothing to lose. Their record after losing the first 3 games of a bilateral series reads impressively- they won their last two games against India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan this year- with a spotless 6-1 (the mauling by Bangladesh, aside) Dead Rubber record.
Oh, the sheer joy of watching them compete again.