It was stated in the preview to the final ODI at Kanpur that the Indian batsmen cannot afford to falter. They did not, but it must be said that the bowlers put them in a great position to push for a win in the decider of the series against West Indies. There was a point in West Indies’ innings when, batting first, they looked set for a score close to 300. But India pulled them back just in time, and the batsmen then ensured that the series was in the bag without much hiccups.
Looking back, West Indies would rue the fact that two of their batsmen got into the 70s, but neither of them could carry on. Opener Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels put West Indies in a great position batting first, from where they could have pushed on to a big total. West Indies were recovering from Powell’s loss, but the dismissal of Samuels in the power play turned the game India’s way. Samuels has the experience of big knocks, and has won matches for Windies against India in the past. Hence, had he stayed on, he could have taken on the Indian bowlers.
After Samuels’ dismissal, Indian bowlers completely got on top of the West Indians. The quick wickets of Lendl Simmons and skipper Dwayne Bravo meant that that Indian had pulled back the advantage the visitors had gained courtesy the quality partnership between Powell and Samuels. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were particularly impressive with the ball during this phase, not allowing West Indies’ batsmen to open up. Mohammed Shami chipped in with a valuable spell as well. To their credit, Darren Bravo and Darren Sammy fought back well in the last few overs to help West Indies post a decent total. India would still have been the happier side at the halfway mark.
As always the opening stand was going to be important if India wanted to get past the target without much trouble. In a blessing in disguise of sorts though, the in-form Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli fell early. The dismissals raised hope of a close contest, but Shikhar Dhawan who was looking for a big score after a wasted few starts played another blinder of an innings. With the South African tour coming up, it was important for the Indian opener to get a big score under his belt, and he did the same in a blazing manner.
Another pleasing factor for India from the match was the performance of Yuvraj Singh. Yet again, he did not look comfortable, but importantly, spent valuable time at the crease, and ended up getting a half-century. It is a knock that should give him some much-needed assurance. Birthday boy Suresh Raina also took the opportunity to put together a cameo. Like Yuvraj, he also needed runs. Raina would have been pleased to get some on the board, although an unbeaten knock would have been even better. All in all, an expected result.
--By A Cricket Analyst