India's gains from the ODI series against WI... (left to right) Rohit Sharma , Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma and Irfan Pathan © Getty Images/AFP


By Karthik Parimal


As the West Indian batsmen, barring Kieron Pollard, yet again made a mockery of their run- chase in the final One-Day International (ODI), it was heartwarming to see the Indians hold nerve and go for the kill in a contest that was already declared a dead rubber. In the last couple of years, India have won 26 of the 32 ODIs at home, losing just four. They have also lost just one Test match of the 10 they played, winning six and drawing three – record that speaks volumes of India’s efficiency in home conditions.


Although one got the feeling that a home series against the West Indies wasn’t really necessary, considering India needed a break after that grueling series on English soil before they board the plane to Australia, there are quite a few positives that India could walk away with.


For a few players like Ajinkya Rahane, Irfan Pathan and Manoj Tiwary, the Chennai ODI was an important one, since this was a chance for them to impress and make a statement that they did deserve to compete at the highest level. Manoj Tiwary certainly grabbed this opportunity with both hands as he was given the Man of the Match award for his scintillating century, despite the fact that Kieron Pollard’s brilliance with the bat almost overshadowed the former’s knock.


Irfan Pathan, too, justified his selection with an excellent first spell, claiming two wickets in his return to the ODI side. However, Rahane was the only disappointment among the reserves, as he failed to open his account in the final ODI. It is time Rahane pulled up his socks and did justice to the immense potential he possesses, as he must be aware that there are many waiting for an opportunity just like him, to impress the selectors and be a regular feature of the side.


Rahul Sharma appears to be one of the best things that has happened to Indian cricket in the spin department. His magical delivery to dismiss Danza Hyatt in the fourth ODI at Indore was almost unbelievable and was a glimpse of what this young leg-spinner could do with the ball. Even during the final ODI, he was fearless in tossing the ball up to Pollard – who at that stage appeared to be at his destructive best as he unleashed his wrath on most Indian bowlers. Most spinners tend to bowl short and flat when a batsman like Pollard is literally taking them to the cleaners, but Rahul Sharma showed courage and believed in his own capabilities rather than being intimidated. With Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha already doing a fine job, Rahul Sharma’s addition to this unit will bolster India’s spin department.


Coming to the batting aspect of things, Rohit Sharma’s form is a shot in the arm to India as well as his confidence. Before this series began, Sharma’s talent was never questioned, but his inability to score big consistently on the international stage was a worry. It was time Rohit Sharma replicated his excellent performances in the Ranji Trophy whilst wearing the blues as well. Surely, he didn’t disappoint this time around. He was given the Man of the Series award, and rightfully so, for his 305 runs in five matches that came at an average of 76.25 inclusive of three half-centuries. The fact that Sharma found his lost form right before the tour of Australia augurs well for India.


After the Indore ODI, Virender Sehwag appears to be at his dangerous best. His 219 will do his confidence a world of good and the Australia bowlers will be wary of an in-form Sehwag. He has proved time and again that he can run away with the match on his day, irrespective of the format. His swashbuckling double-century lay to rest any speculations of his form or capability. Sehwag’s return to form could easily be one of the best things to have happened to India from this series against the West Indies. India’s top-order was a worry, but not anymore.


However, not all is smooth on the opening front for India. Apart from the run-a-ball 67 in the fourth ODI, Gautam Gambhir hasn’t had much to boast about since his performance at the World Cup. His duck in the final ODI added fire to the already rising speculation concerning his poor form. India is a team that is dependent on its openers. It will be a huge boost if Gambhir can find some form before the Boxing Day Test against Australia, as India can tend to be more aggressive if both its openers fire.


All in all, the series against the West Indies had more positives than negatives for India, and all eyes will now be on the tour of Australia, where India have every chance of registering a Test series victory on the Australian soil.


(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)