Marlon Samuels was named Man of the Match for his all-round showing © PTI
Marlon Samuels was named Man of the Match for his all-round show © PTI

Marlon Samuels played a big hand both with bat and ball against India at Kochi on Wednesday. In the end West Indies defeated India by a margin of 124 runs. Varun Arora looks back at Samuels’ contribution for West Indies.

Dwayne Smith was dismissed in a flashy attempt to hoick Ravindra Jadeja out of the ground, leaving West Indies at 98 for 2. Marlon Samuels slowly walked to the middle. With each step he took towards the damp Kochi wicket the memories of his unbeaten 108 at Vijaywada almost 12 years ago would have rekindled in his mind.

He was out there to face a totally new Indian setup; 12 years ago he was facing Javagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar, both men long done with their playing days for India. It has been tough going for Samuels then. He started his Test career when he was just 19. Now 33, Samuels has gone through it all — the tough times of poor form, a match-fixing saga, recurring injuries, bowling action issues and much more. But after all these incidents, he has still stamped out a name above the rest courtesy of his abilities with both bat and ball.

On Wednesday, Samuels played with a clear head and implemented his plans with ease. He didn’t get bogged down with the wickets; instead he tapped the ball in the empty areas for singles and doubles. The main highlight of his unbeaten 116-ball 126 was the manner in which he rotated the strike. He partnered with Denesh Ramdin and focussed on dabbing the good deliveries for quick singles, and smacking the poor ones to — and over — the boundary. He was neither brash nor unimaginative in his stroke-play. His four sixes on Wednesday were proper cricketing shots which revealed the tale of his talent.

The 31stover, bowled by Amit Mishra, was taken apart by Samuels in his unique style. Mishra floated a loopy leg-spinner, and Samuels danced down the wicket and clobbered it over long-on for a flat arrow-like six. Mishra sent another one down; Samuels again got out of his den and flashed a straight bat. This time it went for a bigger six. He was using his feet like a ballet dancer, taking the ball just inches away from his bat and then toiling the leather with his high back-lift and supreme power.

Not only was the footwork exquisite, the power he got from his forearms was immense. Mohammed Shami had bowled a half-volley on the middle stump, Samuels cleared his front leg and murdered the ball to the left of Virat Kohli at long-off, who just watched the ball race past him. He achieved his century in 99 balls, but continued to play till the end. This was his sixth century, and his second against India.

Ramdin and Samuels had stitched together a 165-run partnership to take West Indies to a big total of 321. Samuels had created a flurry of records by now. He achieved 4000 ODI runs in the course of his innings, and became the 10th Caribbean batsman to achieve this feat. His tally had also reached 1000 ODI runs against India, thereby becoming the 8th West Indies batsman to do so.

He didn’t stop with the bat. He bowled his airy off-spinners and picked up two wickets with the ball. It was his day at Kochi. Nobody could have argued that.  He was awarded the man of the match award for his swashbuckling innings, and handy spell. He came poised to the presentation ceremony and dedicated his knock to his coach. “It is unfortunate that I lost my coach, so I dedicate this to him.”

Complete coverage of India vs West Indies 2014

(Varun Arora is a reporter with CricketCountry. He started as a medium-fast bowler, converted to an opening batsman but finally settled with his passion of writing about the game. His Twitter handle is @varunjgd)