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Kartik was a revelation
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 19 November 2002

It sure is becoming easy to pick the winner in the India-West one-day internationals. We have had five matches and all five of them have been won by the team batting second. This has been brought on by the fact that the surfaces on which the matches were played have all been loaded heavily in favour of the batsmen. If the trend holds - and I see no reason why it won't - we might have a situation where the toss would very well decide the series!

At Baroda, at least the spinners found some purchase from the wicket. I felt that both Murali Kartik and Harbhajan Singh bowled splendidly while Carl Hooper also did a decent job.

Kartik indeed was a revelation. The left-arm spinner was the pick of the Indian bowlers and it was good to see him celebrate his maiden one-day international wicket. The young man is not afraid to flight the ball and also gives it a nice loop. If he is properly nurtured, I think this protege of the great Bishan Singh Bedi can render yeoman service to Indian cricket in the years to come.

Kartik's biggest success came when he stifled the imposing Chris Gayle. In the 24 balls that Kartik bowled to him, the powerful West Indies opener could only score nine runs. But Gayle, unfortunately for the Indians, was able to have his own way with the rest of the bowling and that meant that the Indian challenge was eventually undermined. The 23-year-old opener's third ton of the series ensured that his team cantered to victory despite suffering a few hiccups on the way.

The sheer quantum of runs that Gayle has scored in this series could make it the turning point in the career of the Jamaican. Viv Richards, for one, has seen shades of Clive Lloyd in his batting. If indeed Gayle could come anywhere near the 'Big Cat' in terms of achievement and stature, West Indies cricket would benefit enormously.

One must also remember the contribution of the other West Indian opener Wavell Hinds, who set a scorching pace while plundering 80 off 61 balls. In fact, his early assault played a major role in paving the way for a West Indies win.

The Indian medium-pacers being erratic only served to help the visitors' cause. They conceded quite a few wides and no-balls and this was, in my opinion, an unpardonable sin. The woes of skipper Ganguly were multiplied manifold when his fielders too let him down. Laxman dropped Hinds early and easy runs were also concerned. While it might difficult to find a quick-fix to our bowling woes, at least the fielding woes need to be addressed and fast if we are to mount a serious campaign to win the World Cup.

Staying with our fielding, I also feel that India has to think in terms of having a regular 'keeper as the strain of scoring runs and keeping wickets seems to be telling on Dravid. Playing Parthiv Patel might mean that we would lose one batsman in the bargain but that is a price that we must certainly pay in my opinion.

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Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth