'Batting first was a gamble by Dhoni'
India, says former West Indies bowling ace Ian Bishop, will need their spinners to bowl better, else they will be destined to repeat the mistakes on the last South African tour, of being caught cold early. By arrangement with Quba Media Works.
It's been a fantastic tussle at Sabina Park yet again. India were fortunate, in my view, to come out on top.
West Indies missed a number of crucial moments in the match. For one, batting first was a gamble by MS Dhoni, as my guess is he wanted his bowlers, in particular his spinners, to work on a cracked surface in the last innings.
But with the big three of Laxman, Dravid and Dhoni himself coming in without warm-up matches, and the openers new to the Caribbean as well, the decision was fraught with danger.
86 for 6 was a reflection of that. The Sabina pitch did not have the pace that I was expecting, though. So once Harbhajan, and to a lesser extent Raina, started counter-attacking in the first innings, the inexperience of the West indies bowlers showed up.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Harbhajan, Mishra were struggling with their length
Instead of the bowlers keeping their discipline, they started over-attacking and paid the penalty.
246 was, however, not adequate on this surface, and with a decent innings by Barath, the West Indies were in a strong position, but flittered it away again.
Yes, Praveen Kumar was excellent on debut. But he was off for three incidents of running on the protected area when the West Indies were five down and they should have made India pay. More, as Harbhajan and Mishra were struggling with their length.
It has been a persistent problem with the West Indies that they keep giving away strong positions. It's not that they are as poor a side as people think; they are in need of understanding how to play crucial moments, and that's where their senior players come in. And when they do get to know that they will be a tougher side to beat!
Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Getty Images
Bishoo, Sammy ensured Day 3 belonged to WI
In the second innings, you could see that a couple of batsmen were getting more attuned on a difficult surface. Dravid, in particular, put his missed chance, when on 6, to the best use as great players often do. His century was technically excellent and patiently accumulated. The hundred does not, in my view, vindicate the risk of no warm-up games, as Dravid could have been gone early had the catch been held. Too bad that none of the other batsmen, including the unfortunate Raina, couldn't assist more.
Credit must go to Devendra Bishoo, who, in spite of the pasting he took late in the first innings, has continued to show a great temperament and skill. Who says spinners can't succeed against India?
Bishoo and captain Darren Sammy ensured that the third day belonged to the West Indies, because India would have been hoping their last seven wickets would add more than the 161 runs which they scored.
Image: Devendra Bishoo
The game was open on the fourth day
The way the West Indies started attacking India's bowling was also a risk, as an over exuberant shot from young Adrian Barath which brought about his downfall showed, but it has put India on the back foot a bit.
The game was open on the fourth day for any of the two sides to win.
India will need their spinners to bowl better, or they will be destined to repeat the mistakes made on the last South African tour, of being caught cold early. They came back strong in that series, but, with several key names missing on this tour, there is no guarantee of a repeat here in the West Indies.
By arrangement with Quba Media Works
Image: Adrian Barath