West Indies batsmen could have taken a page out of Dravid's innings
Former West Indies bowling ace Ian Bishop says India has a genuine bowling option in Praveen Kumar as they look towards the England tour. By arrangement with Quba Media Works.
On India's last tour of the Caribbean, in 2006, Rahul Dravid made a pair of excellent half-centuries (81 and 68) on a difficult Sabina Park surface to lead his team to a decisive win. It was a batting exhibition that left me in awe about his ability to stay in the moment and play deliveries on merit.
That phrase has become a cricketing clich , but, in principle, it is the guiding light to batting success and cricket in general.
In Dravid's own words, the pitch this time round was not as tricky, but, again, the innings of the match was once again played by him.
The West Indies batsmen could, and should, have learnt a lesson and taken a page out of Dravid's innings -- but that might be asking too much. After all, this has largely been Dravid's way and he has been a craftsmen and technician of the highest order for neigh in fifteen years of international cricket.
Image: Rahul Dravid
Full credit to Dravid on his 32nd Test ton
'The Wall', as Dravid is affectionately known, came into this Test match with very little preparation time like VVS Laxman, who also has a penchant for making tough runs to save and win matches, and MS, who tried to blast his way into form in the second innings. Neither of the last two players mentioned succeeded and Laxman looked pretty rusty. It is more to Dravid's credit that he achieved his 32nd Test century.
At the start of play, with 195 to get, I felt that the West Indies had a better than even chance of achieving their target, but, on reflection, some of their overly aggressive batting seemed to hint at a touch of 'desperation rather than application'.
When one takes into account how 'selective' Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards, first, and then Devendra Bishoo and Fidel Edwards were in their partnerships of 35 and 39 respectively, then you wonder at some of the methods of the top order batsmen.
Image: Rahul Dravid
India have genuine bowling option in Praveen Kumar
Sure, it was worth being positive with the bat, but not reckless, as was the case with Adrian Barath, or careless, in the case of Darren Bravo or Sarwan.
Again, please take a page out of Dravid's book (the dropped catch by Sammy on 6 notwithstanding, as it only seemed to make him focus better). Rather than backing their technique and skill some of them seemed pre-occupied that there was a ball with their name on it coming soon, so get as many as quickly as possible. That might be harsh, but they are better players than that.
The West Indies will look at this as a very worrying trend of good positions wasted. But, more so, that there have been only three half centuries in three Test matches for them this season, including two Tests against Pakistan.
What is more worrying is that spin which has been their bane so far in previous matches was not their undoing this time, as they played Harbajan and Mishra well enough. It was the tall and, at times, wayward Ishant Sharma, but more the impressive swing of Praveen Kumar which was their undoing.
Had Zaheer Khan been here, and even Munaf Patel fit, Praveen would not have made his Test debut. Now India has a genuine bowling option as they look towards the England tour, where conditions could really make Praveen a handful.
Image: Praveen Kumar
Barath needs to learn quickly
It's not only the swing he got, but the good length from which he got movement, and the craftiness which he displayed which impressed me. His dismissal of Adrian Barath twice was a piece of superb out-swing bowling in the first innings. And then smart bowling in the second by inviting a drive wide of off-stump by a young batsman who was in overdrive.
Barath is a very good young player and will serve West Indies well for many a year, but he must quickly learn not to sell his wicket cheaply when he has done the bulk of the hard work and his team is in a crunch situation.
With six wickets in the match and an economy rate of about two-and-a-half runs an over on average, he was almost as decisive in the outcome as anyone else.
The ball may or may not swing as much in the next two matches in Barbados and Dominica, but, at least, India now have another weapon when conditions are right.
Overall, India deserved victory for being brave and thoughtful. I could sense Dhoni's relief at coming out on top given the risk he took batting first when his batting unit and the big three were not well-acclimatized. Now they have time for more nets and sessions to pick up their form and will be difficult to turn over from here on, even at a bouncy Kensington Oval in the next Test.
By arrangement with Quba Media Works
Image: Adrian Barath