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In the final match of the best of three match series, the Indians seemed to have forgotten the miserable performance of the previous game, and looked more focussed than the West Indians. The result was an easy 88 run victory notwithstanding Ricardo Powell's brilliant innings for the West Indies.
Brian Lara who normally bats first on winning the toss against India (to nullify any advantage our spinners may have in the second session), decided to field this time. This looked a good tactic bearing in mind that the batting debacle of the previous game may still be fresh in the minds of the Indian batsmen.
To Saurav Ganguly's credit, he decided to follow his instincts and opened the batting along with MSK Prasad, with Rahul Dravid batting lower down this time to shore up the weakened and awful looking middle-order.
MSK Prasad was unlucky to be given out caught behind of a breakback from Walsh that hit his pads on the way through. Ramesh who batted at number three soon followed in identical fashion to the previous game, providing slip catching practice to Sherwin Campbell of Dillon. This was a poor shot which must put a question mark on his ability to score runs off the new ball outside the sub-continent.
Most people were surprised to see ... young Jacob Martin walk out to bat at 24 for 2 in the 10th over, but for him it was an opportunity to prove his mettle. On a scale of ten I'd give him 6 for today's performance, for the courage and temperament he exhibited.
A little fine-tuning is required though especially in the area of his front foot shuffle. A slight grip change could help him as well. The bowling was not easy as the wicket was still helping the bowlers but he stuck it out gamely. His senior partners in Ganguly and Dravid were thus able to concentrate on picking up the runs, rather than being distracted with wickets falling around them.
Ganguly was bowled of a straight ball for 34 with the score on 61 - he played down the wrong line and was pretty cross with himself to give Dillon his second of 5 wickets for the day.
Dravid walked in to a make or break situation. He was aware that a failure on his part could see the team crumbling again. But he played beautifully from ball one. Three superb fours off Dillon set the tone for things to follow and the partnership between Jacob and Rahul produced 59 in 14 overs.
Another healthy partnership between Rahul and Kambli of 77 in 13 overs with Kambli batting well towards the end of his innings of 26 saw the Indian total reach 225 in 50 overs. Dravid struck a fine 77 and seems to have developed the lofted drive of spinners as well. He proved it by smashing Adams for consecutive sixes.
A total of 225 on a new pitch was never going to be easy and a good start was required by the Windies. That wasn't to be as Mohanty struck in the first ball of the innings bowling Campbell, the man who had scored two fifties so far in the tournament. That was a big blow to the Windies and worse was to follow.
In the next over, Prasad had Jacobs caught by Dravid at first slip (the first of 4 slip catches) and soon the procession began. Chanderpaul, Gayle, Adams, Lara and Dillon soon followed in much the same manner of the Indians in the previous game. This time however the wickets were shared by Mohanty, Prasad and Chopra. Lara was dismissed, caught at first slip by Dravid , a classic off-spinners wicket against a left hander and Dillon was bowled next ball to give Chopra a chance of a hat trick and the West Indies tottering at 52 for 7.
However, lightning in the form of Ricardo Powell struck again and soon the only people who were in danger of serious injury were the spectators in the stands. Every bowler who bowled to Powell was struck for at least one six, and he coolly refused singles at the beginning of the over as he was shielding Collymore. But still scored at more than a run a ball reaching 76 in 73 balls. At one stage in the partnership he had scored 62 to Collymore's lone run! They finally put on 83 runs out of which Collymore's contribution was a mere two runs.
Powell struck 7 clean sixes and equalled Vivian Richards as the only player to hit 7 sixes twice in one day cricket. It was only after he was dismissed that the Indians could breathe freely, the tail was polished off and India had won the DMC Cup in Toronto by two games to one.
Chopra who dismissed Powell finished with fantastic figures of 5 for 21 in 6.2 overs of controlled off-spin to continue his fine form in this new season.
For the record West Indies managed only 137 all out in 34.2 overs for India to win by 88 runs. Dravid who held 4 catches in addition to his masterly 77 was adjudged Man of the Match and Saurav who in a marvellous gesture called the whole team up to the podium to receive the cup, was awarded the Man of the Series award.
India: 225 for 7 in 50 overs
Rahul Dravid 77, Martin 33, Saurav 34.
Merwyn Dillon 5 for 51.
West Indies: 137 all out
Ricardo Powell, Chopra 5 for 21.
India won by 88 runs and the series by 2 games to 1.
The next tournament for India is the 4-nation tournament in Nairobi featuring India, Zimbabwe, South Africa and hosts Kenya starting for the month end 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.
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