Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
Inconsistency - the bane of Indian cricket raised its ugly head once again in the second match of the best of three series between India and West Indies at the Toronto. Having restricted WI to a reasonably decent score of 190 for 6 on a wicket showing a little wear and tear, the Indians batted miserably to be all out for 120.
At one stage however, India were 43 for 7 and in great danger of being dismissed for their lowest ever score in one-day internationals. Only a fighting partnership between Joshi and Chopra saved them that embarrassment.
The only batsmen who could have an excuse are Dravid and Martin who lost their wickets to balls that kept a bit low.
The day began with WI captain Brian Lara winning the toss and electing to bat, surely a decision based on the fact that he did not want to expose his batting to India's spinners in the afternoon. The advantage of the early morning moisture on the pitch was well exploited by our fast bowlers, in particular Mohanty but if you have to get wickets, catches must be held.
Sherwin Campbell, later named MOM for his fine 59 was dropped at least on 3 occasions in the slips before he had passed ten, the main culprit being Ramesh who dropped two chances. Now we all know that Ramesh has never fielded in the slips, so why was he there in the first place? A specialist position taken very lightly cost India the match. What our coach Anshuman Gaekwad is doing is a mystery. The mind boggles as mistakes continue to happen and no remedial measures are in sight....
Mohanty should have had a couple of wickets in his first spell. He was replaced by Chopra who provided the breakthrough on his own. He didn't need the help of his fielders (not that he risked having a catch go to them). Jacobs was bowled for 11, the score 43 in the 10th over.
Chanderpaul was next in, but was dismissed by Ganguly of the first ball he bowled. He was brilliantly caught by MSK Prasad down the leg side. The 'Prince of Calcutta' is soon going to be called the 'King of Toronto'!
Campbell continued his good form and in the company of Gayle and Lara moved onto 59 before being trapped leg before by a wonderful arm ball from Joshi. Chopra and Joshi bowled well in tandem, and Ganguly who gets most things right on Toronto bowled 9 overs and took 3 wickets.
Lara played sedately in the beginning and then played a few handsome strokes to reach 34 when he edged Ganguly for Prasad to take another blinder. It has been a long time since we have seen an Indian wicket-keeper who dives headlong for catches. The previous two keepers who had fairly long runs in the side - Kiran More and Nayan Mongia - hated to dirty their flannels.
The West Indies total reached 190 for 6 in 50 overs, the last 10 overs producing only 36 on the face of some fine bowling by Prasad and Mohanty.
The Indians continued to open with Ramesh and MSK Prasad but this time around the plan backfired. The West Indian bowlers seemed much better focussed today and it showed. Ramesh was sent back without a run on the board, caught in the slips by Powell wafting outside the off stump . The bowler was King. An early wicket always encourages the fielding side and that is exactly what happened.
In the same over, Prasad was run out, his mistake. Dravid played the ball to mid on and set off for an easy single. Prasad for some inexplicable reason kept looking back at the ball, and also slowed down in between. Lara swooped on the ball and sent a wonderful return to Jacobs and it was all over. These 2 dismissals had the Indians on the back foot but worse was to follow. Ganguly, Kanitkar, Dravid, Singh and Martin (who got his first knock in international cricket) were all back to the confines of the dressing room within the 25th over and the score soon read a dismal 43 for 7.
As I mentioned earlier, this inconsistency is the main problem area with Indian cricket. One day they play like kings, the next day like paupers. It took another passionate performance from Chopra, who has really come of age in the last month as an international player, along with Joshi to save India's blushes. They got the total past India's lowest one-day score of 62, made against Australia way back in 1980.
Chopra made 21, Joshi 25 and Prasad 18 as India reached the three figure mark to avoid total disgrace.
It was a fine performance by West Indies who always have the firepower in the fast bowling department to trouble the best. All it takes is a little harnessing and Lara is improving as a captain in that respect. The world had better watch out.
West Indies: 190 for 6 wkts in 50 overs
Campbell 59, Lara 34, Ganguly 3 for 37.
India: 120 All Out in 41.5 overs
Joshi 25, King 2 for 33, Dillon 2 for 8, Gayle 2 for 18.
West Indies won by 70 runs. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.
For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.