Suresh Raina (left) and Gautam Gambhir would be looking to turn the tables in the remaining ODIs against the West Indies © AFP

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

The Caribbean challenge has come alive as they put in a good team effort at Ahmedabad to clinch their first win on the tour to India. Darren Sammy’s men had put in spirited performances in the first two One-Day Internationals (ODIs), but they were only able to add the finishing touch in the third as the overall showing was more uniform and consistent. They capitalised on crucial intervals in the game and didn’t let the balance of power shift, even as Rohit Sharma resisted and played a blinder.

 

Lack of consistency has hurt West Indies cricket for quite some time. Even during a particular game there are moments where they produce brilliant cricket and in a matter of minutes they move into the ambit of mediocrity which negates all the previous good work. However, during the third ODI there was relative uniformity in their game as their batsmen got the runs and the bowlers kept applying the pressure during the Indian run chase. This performance has set a precedent for them to follow in the coming games and they should treat it as a launching pad to make good strides and build a match winning unit.

 

The introduction of Sunil Narine into international cricket has been fantastic. The Indian batsmen, quality players of spin bowling, found it difficult to come to terms with him. During the Champions League T20 he showed good control and variations. The same abilities were evident as he wasn’t very easy to pick. His inclusion has certainly added more teeth to the West Indies bowling which already boasts of dangerous bowlers like Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach.

 

The third ODI may have witnessed a uniform performance, but West Indies need to cover a few aces to put in polished efforts. There are a few areas that require attention and if these issues are sorted out, the cricket world would see a very strong West Indian unit.

 

The top order needs to provide them with quicker starts and get a move on upfront. Andre Russell and Sammy may have provided the impetus in the end with some crazy hitting, but that is not going to happen in every single game. If the West Indies top order starts with a more positive mind frame they would find themselves getting bigger scores. It is almost as if they are happy to consolidate and spend time in the middle.

 

It is true that the set batsman has to play a sheet anchor role but he needs to keep the scoreboard ticking and guard against excessive dot balls. Lendl Simmons and Marlon Samuels are the batsmen who can be aggressive and spend time in the middle at the same time. If the two mix their caution with aggression it would serve their team well.

 

The Ahmedabad ODI showed that West Indies aren’t an ordinary unit as some people might consider them to be. They have some very talented players who need proper grooming and nurturing. The coaching staff has a good bunch of cricketers who have the ability to develop into a formidable unit.

 

On the other hand, the home side India has a few bitter pills to swallow. The top order has failed for the third straight game and left the middle order with too much to do. The only batsman who was up for the challenge was Rohit Sharma as he continues to affirm the faith of the team management. The death bowling by the Indians was atrocious and it made the ultimate difference between the two sides.

 

Parthiv Patel’s positive knock may have saved him from the axe, but if he wants to have a longer career at the highest level he should avoid getting into the inconsistent ruts. In one of my previous articles I had highlighted Parthiv’s lack of consistency. His latest outing is a positive sign as it indicates his intent to change things and get back into top gear. However, such a run needs to be prolonged and he needs to convert these starts into big knocks. It was a good ball that got rid of him, quite a change from his previous dismissals where he had a major hand in throwing away his wicket.

 

The real concerns in the Indian line-up would be Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir. Both haven’t been amongst the runs in this series and it comes as a surprise when you consider their performances in the series against England at home. However, it would be a mistake to rest either of them in the upcoming games. Raina is the sort of a player who can fire anytime and is a finisher in the middle order along with Rohit Sharma.

 

Gambhir is in desperate need of a big score and the two games before the tour Down Under provide him a good opportunity to capitalise. The way he got out to Ravi Rampaul in the third ODI shows that he is a bit short on confidence. A Gambhir in full flow would have judged it to perfection and presented the full face of his bat.

 

The series is moving into a very interesting stage as India’s pride has been hurt by the Caribbean Calypso. Both sides have a few problems to address and whoever rectifies them on time will ultimately clinch the series.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)