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Windies give India cold warm-up
Prem Panicker | March 09, 2007 22:30 IST
Last Updated: March 10, 2007 01:07 IST
India scored a comfortable nine-wicket victory over the West Indies in their concluding World Cup warm-up match at the Trelawny stadium in Jamaica on Friday.
It was not the ideal warm-up the Indians had looked forward to. After winning the toss and electing to bat, Brian Lara's men failed to get going on a seamer-friendly surface and folded for 85 runs in 25.5 overs.
Lara top scored with 22 as only three West Indians reached double figures.
Munaf Patel grabbed four wickets for 10 runs from his six overs, while left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan chipped in with three wickets for 25.
In reply, India cruised home in 18.3 overs despite losing Virender Sehwag for a duck.
Robin Uthappa (35) and Dinesh Karthik (38) put together an unfinished partnership of 73 runs to seal an easy victory.
West Indies innings:
"We'll have a bat," Brian Lara said, after calling right in the warm-up game against India at Jamaica. And the Indian bowlers had a ball.
On a pitch that offered bounce and seam movement both ways and just occasionally held up a touch, the West Indies batting just didn't have a clue, on the day. The most impressive feature of a startlingly good bowling performance by the Indians was discipline - the three lead seamers held their lines and lengths remarkably well, bowled with a fair degree of intelligence and, where required, hostility - and were backed up by a fielding outfit that, while not being electric, got their basics right more often than not, threw themselves around with some vim, and helped the bowlers keep up the pressure.
The two openers, who struggled to force the pace against bowling that targeted their weak areas, fell off successive deliveries. Zaheer Khan, who in his comeback has married sharply honed bowling skills with increased intelligence, set Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and took him out with a 1-2-3. Two deliveries to the left hander left him; the third, angled a touch more inwards, squared him up and went the other way. Chanderpaul flicked at it, the ball slid off the bat face, and Dhoni dived to his right to hold. (6/17; 14/1)
The very next ball, the first of an Agarkar over, saw the bowler surprise Chris Gayle with pace and bounce. Much of pace is about perception - in real terms, there was nothing startlingly fast about a 134.7 kph effort - but it came off the deck quick and skiddy, it squared Gayle up, the bounce caught the handle and Dhoni this time dived the other way to take in front of first slip. (6/8; 14/2)
Brian Lara came in and for a very brief while, it looked like game on: he began with a caress through the covers off Zaheer; an over later he played the shot squarer; he punctuated that with a pull off Agarkar and then a contemptuous straight smash�
The two opening bowlers had shared the load, literally and figuratively: at the 14 over mark, each had an analysis reading 6-1-22-1. Irfan Pathan came in and during his spell, produced the sort of wides that made Steve Harmison the joke of the recent Ashes series.
It was one of those days, though - just occasionally, Pathan produced deliveries that reprised his best form, and each time he did, he struck. Lara, lulled perhaps by the bowler's waywardness, rocked forward, changed his mind, tried to square drive a delivery around off seaming away, changed his mind again - and with the pitch 'holding' the ball a fraction - finally patted it back at the bowler. (22/35; 53/3)
At the other end Munaf Patel took over - and was more impressive, even, than Zaheer and Agarkar had been. Bowling well under top pace, Munaf focussed on a full length, and a wicket to wicket line, that made his away movement close to lethal.
In his opening over, he angled one in to Ramnaresh Sarwan that squared him up, then left him late to find the edge to slip. The right-hander, on his return after an injury layoff, never really looked in touch; the ball he got would have done for him even if his form were a 100 per cent. (13/27; 53/4).
Patel's best over was his next, to Dwayne Bravo. Minor manipulations in length and line, that seemed patterned on his self-professed role model Glenn McGrath, kept Bravo fidgeting, constantly looking to break free but unable to. The last ball of that over was just that touch shorter, but not short enough for Bravo's attempted short arm pull - the shot picked out midwicket. (0/6; 57/5).
At the other end, Pathan kept the wides going; some of them were positively embarassing. In between, he produced a disguised slower ball on yorker length just outside off; 19-year-old Kieron Pollard, making an unimpressive fist of his first appearance in West Indies colors, had a go at it and managed only to get the low outside edge to Dhoni. (2/14; 61/6).
The very next legitimate delivery was out of the vintage Pathan book: it began angling across the right hander, it straightened in the air on an off and middle line, and it trapped the batsman bang in front. Marlon Samuels, centurion of the Windies' previous warm up game, had been pushed low down the order in order for the other batsmen to have some practice. As it turned out, they didn't take advantage - and neither did Samuels. (0/1; 62/7).
Reprising the strikes by Zaheer and Agarkar off successive balls, Patel then struck with the first ball of the next over: another ball from close to the wickets, straightening on middle and off, had Dinesh Ramdhin squaring up only for late seam movement to find the edge; Patel at the end of that over had figures reading 2-1-2-3. (3/2; 62/8).
Astonishingly, at this point the match was just 18.1 overs old - an opportunity, or so it seemed, for Dwayne Smith and Simmons to get a good, long knock. The former, though, just didn't have the stomach for a gritty battle - frustrated by Munaf's laser-straight line and infinitesimal movement, he attempted a pull to a ball quicker, and not short enough; all he managed was a heave skywards, that went down the throat of midwicket (13/19; 80/9; Patel at that point 5.2-2-6-4).
Anil Kumble came on to bowl in the 26th over - with a scoreboard reading a luxurious 85/9. And took five deliveries to line up Jerome Taylor and take him out - LBW, how else, with a quick flipper on off that pinned the batsman on the top of the crease (0/6; Windies 85 all out in 25.5 overs).
It is easy to look at some of the shots the West Indians played and go ah, they had an off day - but that judgment ignores a startlingly good all-round performance by the Indians in the field. Except for a fierce square cut by Lara that Yuvraj Singh failed to cling to at point, the Indians caught everything. More to the point, the fielders buzzed around, cut out sharp singles, kept batsmen from rotating strike, and complemented a quality bowling performance.
Pathan was easily the worst of the bowlers on view - but even he, after his first two overs, began getting his length and line right. His pace was still short of optimal, but in cup-half-full view, he began getting his bowling basics back in some sort of order.
The target won't challenge India's batting lineup to the slightest; against that, India misses out on an opportunity for extended batting practice - the last competitive hit it will have before the Cup begins.
Virender Sehwag, who in recent times has been quoted as saying he wants to be more selective in his strokeplay, and wants to repay his captain for the faith reposed in him, did neither.
To the fourth ball he faced, the second of Powell's over, he aimed a slash outside off stump and edged through to Denesh Ramdhin, in a fashion that has been distressingly familiar in recent outings (0/4; 6/1).
If these practice matches are about testing strengths and limitations, then clearly the one lesson India � and captain Rahul Dravid � must have learnt by now is that the one-devastating opener is currently so low on form and confidence, that opening with him is not so much a gamble, but a bullet in the team's foot.
Then again, the team has two more games: its Cup opener on March 17 against Bangladesh, and the second game, on March 19, against Bermuda, to try and get Sehwag back in touch ahead of the key game of the group, against Sri Lanka on march 23.
At the other end, to the second ball he faced, Robin Uthappa rocked forward, and from that stable platform, crashed the ball on the up through the covers.
The interesting thing about a batsman who bludgeons bowlers with arrogance is his awareness of the importance of soft hands and the scampered single. His calling and running � both of which go unnoticed by his pyrotechnics -- are crisp, confident, and very well-judged. And, by way of bonus, he is deceptively quick between wickets; twice, in the first 11 overs alone, he sneaked singles on the throw.
Dinesh Karthik, sent in at three to get quality time in the middle, had his share and more of uncertain moments, especially against the pacy Powell, outside and around his off stump. To his credit, though, he hung in there and rode out the rough.
Without really pushing pedal to metal, Karthik (15/34) and Uthappa (21/24) took India close to the halfway point of the chase by the end of the first ten overs (40/1). Lara decided against taking his powerplays, spread his field, and tried to make things as hard as he could � but chasing 46 in 40 overs wasn't ever going to be a problem; the two batsmen focussed on spending some relaxed time in the middle.
By the time lunch was called, the pair had taken India to 62/1 in 14 overs (Uthappa 30/33; Karthik 23/49). The formality of scoring 24 runs in 36 overs, with nine wickets in hand, remains to be fulfilled, but the match is effectively done and dusted.
The two Indian not out batsmen, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik, took a mere 4.3 overs to knock up the 24 runs that remained, to seal the win by an overwhelming nine wickets.
Both took full advantage of the chance to bat; they focussed on getting their eye in. Karthik weathered the initial rough phase, and began finding the range on his shots once the ball got a touch older and stopped seaming around quite as much (the management just might want to bat him a bit lower down the order than three, if and when he gets a Cup game). He ended the game with 38 off 67.
Uthappa impressed with his determination not to throw it away, as he has been wont to do through over-exuberance. While Karthik found the boundaries after lunch, Uthappa studiously focussed on staying there, scoring through singles and in the process, showing that when he wants to, he can damp down the berserker instincts and keep the board ticking without undue risk.
Noticeably, his 35 off 43 contained 14 singles, 3 twos and a three, in addition to three fours � so there is more to this young man than fours and sixes.
Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan would have liked a serious hit, which they were deprived off by the Windies collapse. Then again, momentum is a good thing to have and with two convincing wins in the run-up to the Cup, Team India has momentum to burn � and the added bonus that its first two Cup games are relatively easy affairs, against Bangladesh and Bermuda.
Those two games give India two more opportunities to fine tune ahead of the serious business; thus far, and you might want to keep fingers crossed on this, things appear to be going just fine for Team India. There's the odd hiccup still � but which team in the competition can claim to be 100 per cent ready, anyway?
Chris Gayle c Dhoni b Agarkar 6
Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-14, 3-53, 4-54, 5-57, 6-61, 7-62, 8-62, 9-80
Bowling: Ajit Agarkar 7-1-27-1, Zaheer Khan 6-0-22-0, Irfan Pathan 6-0-25-3, Munaf Patel 6-2-10-4, Anil Kumble 0.5-1-1-0.
A Uthappa not out 35
Did not bat: S Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, R Dravid, M S Dhoni, I Pathan, A Agarkar, A Kumble, Z Khan, Harbhajan Singh, M Patel.
Fall of wickets: 1-6
Bowling: J Taylor 6-0-31-0, D Powell 7-0-21-1, C Collymore 3-0-11- 0, D Bravo 2.3-0-15-0.
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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