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Give the youngsters a shot
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 22 October 2002

Like the works of Ozymandias, the mighty West Indies cricketing edifice seems to have crumbled into one colossal wreck. Carl Hooper's men have been, to put it very mildly, lacklustre, and their woeful performance in the Test series until now does scant justice to the glorious West Indian teams that have more than held their own in battles on Indian soil over the years.

The visitors' batting has been devoid of inspiration, their bowling ragged, and their fielding indisciplined. With this being the case, Sourav Ganguly's men have naturally dominated the series on their way to becoming the first Indian team to take a 2-0 lead in a Test series against the West Indies.

Even this achievement, however, cannot gloss over the fact that the Chennai Test was one of the most boring ever. With the West Indies failing to fight the good fight, the spectators had to satisfy themselves with the mostly bland fare that was on offer. The fact that Sachin Tendulkar, who has a special affinity for Chepauk, failed by his own standards also did not help matters.

Virender Sehwag, though, accredited himself well, and his two sparkling knocks will remain etched in the minds of the fans. Another man who made a deep impression was Zaheer Khan. The left-arm quick did not let a placid wicket dishearten him and bowled with genuine hostility whenever he was given the ball.

Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh also did a fair job, although I felt they could have bowled better on the third day when the West Indies batsmen unsettled them with their aggressive approach. The spin twins have been in fine form, claiming 99 wickets between them in this calender year, and I for one wish that they shall continue to spin India to many more victories in the time to come.

With the series already in the bag, I think some senior cricketers should have been rested for the final Test. In their place, the selectors could have tried out youngsters like Amit Mishra, Laxmipathy Balaji, Gautam Gambhir, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh. These talented cricketers need a chance to prove their mettle, and if they do so, it will be Indian cricket that will benefit in the bargain.

Moving on to the West Indies performance, I was happy to see the classy Ramnaresh Sarwan at his best. The young man has a copybook technique and seems to be at his ease while playing the spinners too. The West Indies would dearly love to see more cricketers like him in their side. Jermaine Lawson is another youngster who must have given the West Indian supporters a lot of heart. Not too many bowlers have castled Rahul Dravid Sachin Tendulkar - the two premier Indian batsmen - in the same innings, and this is definitely a rare feather in Lawson's cap. The debutant fast bowler possesses raw pace and attitude, and if properly moulded could turn into a West Indies spearhead in the years to come.

The performances of these two men and that of Wavell Hinds apart, there was little that the visitors can draw cheer from. They already are a beaten side, and Carl Hooper might find it beyond him to motivate them and avoid a series whitewash. All indications then are of Sourav Ganguly equalling Mohammad Azharuddin as India's winningest Test captain ever on his beloved Eden Gardens turf.

© CricInfo

Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth