What went wrong for India?
Before the start of the India-West Indies one-day series, many people would have expected the final 4-3 scoreline, and some perhaps even a 5-2 one, but they would have favoured not the tourists by the home side. But the young talent from the West Indies surprised both fans and cricket pundits alike, and players like Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle really came to the fore of the international scene in this series.
The Indians too had a couple of pleasant surprises - finds of the series, if one wishes to term them thus. They include Murali Kartik for his fine flight and control and Sanjay Bangar for his cool temperament in crucial situations - as well as a surprising strike- rate, considering his relatively dour approach in Test matches.
But it is always difficult to play and win a series without likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and, at the end of the tour, Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh. One cannot always expect to chase big totals over 300 without the team's top two batsmen. In two previous chases of over 300, we have seen how Ganguly came out blazing in the first 15 overs. At Lord's he scored 60 off 40-odd balls, while at Ahemdabad he made a relatively meagre 28 off 16. In the final game, Ganguly was missing, and unfortunately for India, Virender Sehwag also failed to give India a good start, one that they badly needed to win the match and series.
On comparing the two sides on paper, there is little difference to be found; but in this series, while the Indian batsmen were good, the West Indians were too good. The bowling departments, for most of the series, were equally good or bad - barring one spell from Jermain Lawson in the final game. The pitches for all the one-dayers were batting beauties, posing nightmares for the bowlers.
So where the West Indians got ahead was in their consistent scoring and strike-rate. Not that India lagged far behind, but when it comes to hitting the ball cleanly and hard, the West Indians dominated the series. The number of sixes they hit off the Indian bowlers tells its own story; four centuries came from them, three from Gayle alone and the fourth that brilliant knock from Samuels.
In contrast, the Indians could only boast of two hundreds, one each by Sehwag and Rahul Dravid. The Indian batting average in this series hovers around 36, while the West Indians made 48 runs per wicket. The West Indian bowlers too fared better; while India conceded 56 runs per wicket, the tourists managed to give only 41 runs per wicket.
The presence of Tendulkar, Zaheer and Ganguly would undoubtedly have made a difference to the end result, but one must accept that the West Indians outplayed India in the batting department most of the time, and certainly on the four occasions when they went on to win. That, really, was enough for them to emerge deserving series winners.
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