5th July, 2013
Tri-Nation Series, Port-Of-Spain
West Indies: Played 2, Won 2
India: Played 2, Lost 2
The tables have turned in less than a week, with India’s Champion ODI side already short of motivation, purpose and energy on the slow, low and dusty pitches of the Caribbean.
West Indies, the home side, have everything to play for- still trying to repair themselves after a failed Champions Trophy group stage where they did a heartbreaking South Africa. They are a better ODI side than most given them credit for, and recent results aren’t an indication of their depth and quality. Their only problem lies in trying to pace themselves and learn to play 50 over cricket unlike a T20 game- with most of their stars being worldclass T20 players in various tournaments all over the world. Once they learn the art of maintaining patience and discipline past the 20 over mark, they could be a handful for the best of teams all over the world. After all, for how long can a group that consists of Gayle, Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, Roach, Samuels and Narine fail? It is only a matter of time before this limited overs dream team finds their groove and begins terrorizing different worlds- much like their form in this tournament in familiar conditions.
India, led by Kohli in absence of Major Dhoni, look like a pale shadow of the side that won the Champions Trophy- even though it’s the exact same side without any changes. Vijay has come in only for Dhoni recently, and they look even weaker- losing to familiar foes Lanka by a mind boggling 161 runs- pretty much knocking themselves out of the tri-nation series with 2 games to go. They may need the West Indian side to beat Lanka, while they win both their remaining games- preferably one with a bonus point…a possibility that seems highly unlikely in the current scenario. They have a 5-match ODI series against Zimbabwe later this month, for which most of this team will be scrapped and rested- giving ‘seniors’ a chance to prove themselves. If that’s the state of Indian Cricket, it is a healthy condition- with the only drawback being the disturbance of a proven young match-winning ODI side with lots to learn and experience to gain. This tri-series will teach them to exercise the art of adaptation and discipline between two overseas tournaments, and dealing with the pressures and tags of being favorites.
India, sooner or later, have to fight back. This could be the beginning of a doomed comeback, where they could still fall short of qualification for the final eventually.