As the West Indies A team comprehensively outplayed India A in their own backytard, Abhijit Banare analyses the teamwork of the team from the Caribbean and elaborates on the poor performance of the hosts, who were exposed at home.
Coming from a match down, West Indies A (WI A) scripted a brilliant turnaround to conquer a series against the formidable Indians. The Caribbean side put up a brilliant example of a team performance but that doesn’t exonerate the Indians of their inability to challenge the second-string side of a team that is unjustifiably languishing down the order in one-day cricket. India A (Ind A) were completely outsmarted by their opposition in the last two One-Day Internationals.
There were various lessons to learn from WI A. The side didn’t throw up any miraculous performance but they got two basic aspects in place which you would often hear commentators making note of during an international match: a) They focused on the partnerships and tormented the Indians; b) At least one batsman dug deep and carried the innings till the end. These are among the basic strategies often mentioned, but here we are talking about an ‘A’ team which has perfectly executed this strategy that many international teams fail to focus on.
WI A batsmen seize the opportunity
If you observed the second and the third match, there was not much to differentiate between how things panned out right from the toss to setting a formidable total and the stutter in Indian chase. In both matches, the Windies had a centurion — Jonathan Carter and Kirk Edwards — who stayed through till the slog overs. Both the batsmen crafted their innings beautifully.
In the second match, Carter at one point of time, along with Leon Johnson, appeared as though they were pushing themselves to stay there till the 50th over and the low run-rate wasn’t their concern. The methodical approach that Johnson applied reminds of how Chris Gayle builds his innings these days in a T20 club match. Even in the third match, while Edwards was a touch more aggressive than Carter, the number of partnerships developed remained the same and that is why a five-for by Jaydev Unadkat towards the end hardly made any difference.
While Edwards has already played a few matches for the senior team, Carter is an exciting prospect. The maturity in building an innings and the array of shots the left-hander presented reminded of Yuvraj Singh’s brilliance.
From the visitor’s point of view, it’s a great achievement as they are slowly regaining foothold of their team with some fine players emerging through the domestic ranks. It is no more the West Indies of recent years which appeared like pushovers against major teams.
Is that the strong Indian batting?
The Indian team since many years has always boasted of a formidable batting line-up. Irrespective of how they performed, there’s a sense of security that the failures are a one-off thing and they can bounce back easily. Even the ‘A’ side which played this series had a really great set of batting talent. Someone like Naman Ojha, Mandeep Singh and Robin Uthappa have all earned their ranks in the domestic circuit.
However, some of the players were found out under match conditions. Ojha’s dismissal in the third ODI in particular was one such example. Promoted up the order, the batsman failed to apply himself and went for a shot without ever coming close to it, something you associate with a Virender Sehwag dismissal on his off day.
Except for Yuvraj Singh, none of the other batsmen appeared threatening. As for Yuvraj as a batsman, the performance certainly deserves applause as he exuded confidence even before the beginning of the series and he has managed his promise to perfection. The elegant shots he displayed might have already sent a reminder to the selectors.
As far as the Indian bowling is concerned, they were far from their best. Despite having someone like Vinay Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat, the bowlers struggled to outsmart a calculated attack from the Windies batsmen. While they were disciplined early on, they failed to deliver under pressure. Siddarth Kaul really struggled to keep his focus when Edwards was going after the bowling. At one point of time in the last two matches, the confusion was crisp clear on the faces of the bowlers and it reflected in their pitchmap.
The A series is like a simulator of playing for the senior team and helps the player to build a solid base backed with confidence of succeeding in the senior circuit. The performance of Indian batsmen has been far from reassuring but it would be far too early to ring the alarm bells.
Between a Shikhar Dhawan and a young talent like Unmukt Chand, India have a fringe player like Ajinkya Rahane or Manoj Tiwary, who are still good enough to succeed for the national side. In fact, there are several players who lie in between and there are enough quality players to fill in and more importantly deliver as well. On a positive note, it does help shed light on where the talent pool lies and the selection team led by Sandeep Patil should be lauded for trying and testing various players in these tours.
Overall, it was a great series displaying some fine young talents. It would be exciting to see how the West Indians perform in the four-day games. A positive result there would mean that for world cricket’s delight, the West Indies will soon be on course for a successful revival.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)