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'India showing signs of fatigue'
May 24, 2006
Fans back home would sense that Indians have been a bit lacklustre in the last one week. The bogey of too much cricket would be raised again.
After all, Indians have played Pakistan in Pakistan, hosted England at home and been to Abu Dhabi, purely for commercial reasons I must add, and are now in the alien conditions of the Caribbean. It could tire any bunch.
The Indians have been trying to create a bigger squad to cushion the blow but now that they are trailing, it would be interesting to see if a few fresh faces are seen in the middle. The atmosphere in Brian Lara's territory in Trinidad in the last two games could test the best.
One can't help but feel that perhaps, just perhaps, this Indian team has made the mistake of treating this West Indian team lightly. They might have been mistaken in believing that they just needed to turn up in the park to roll the West Indies over. It hasn't happened and there is little likelihood that it would happen in the last two games.
Everyone acknowledges one-day cricket to be a young man's game but it's important to get your mix right.
India has done away with Anil Kumble on this tour and indeed have been turning their back on him for sometime now, but he is vital to India's plans, especially on wickets in the Caribbean where the pitches these days tend to hold and grip the ball. Kumble has experience, is economical and never stops posing difficult questions to the batsmen.
How critical were spinners to West Indies was again underlined by the success of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. The key for Gayle is his ability to change the pace of his delivery without any apparent giveaway to the batsmen. It helps him pin down the batsmen.
Fans in India would remember Marlon Samuels for the exhilarating innings he played in a one-day game four years ago when he took Javagal Srinath to cleaners. He is now showing another facet of his cricket though I do believe he is still some way from doing justice to his enormous talent.
When these two spinners held the two ends up, India needed experience to counter it. The run-outs were foolhardy and inexcusable, especially from somebody with the experience of Mohammad Kaif. He messed up the basic of grounding the bat and it hurt his team badly.
Countless fans of Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be despondent that he still hasn't fired in the Caribbean. However, I still feel this Indian team has men who put their hands up when somebody in terrific form hasn't come to party.
As Rahul Dravid failed in St Kitts, it was Virender Sehwag who came good. In Sabina Park on Saturday, it was Yuvraj who stepped in for Dravid. Dhoni's failure in the third game wasn't because a bowler was able to get the better of him. In a way I guess that makes his dismissal worse!
West Indies suddenly is picking up the threads and Ramnaresh Sarwan has begun to show the consistency which fans in the Caribbean have always hoped from him. He is one of the soundest technician in the game today but it is not reflected in his figures. With two straight innings of 98 and 115, one hopes he has turned the corner. It's about time he did it.
Sarwan's latest form doubtless would inspire the team for these runs are not accruing against the likes of Zimbabwe. He is now beginning to dominate a side which on recent form had acquired a formidable look.
Three straight games ending in the final over doesn't happen by chance. It reflects the even nature of the contest. India might still be able to do well in Tests but in one-day cricket, on such pitches, the depth in batting isn't a negligible matter. West Indies possess men aplenty who could strike important runs in the middle.
India would do well to bear that in mind and somehow need to find that extra reserve of energy to keep its head ahead in this neck-and-neck battle. One can't wait for the final two games of this gripping contest to unfold.
India's tour of West Indies: The Complete Coverage
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