So... visiting team arrives before the home team. India was at Jamaica earlier than WI as they were eliminated before the knockout stages of the ICC world T20 that Pakistan won (refer my previous post). Shaken India to take on rejuvenated WI. This series got a little bit more importance for the Indian side as a recent discovery showed that the new age Indian top order was weak against bouncers. Something that kept them out of the T20 screenplay.
So, first one at Kingston, Jamaca and the Sabina Park crowd wanted a good contest. They got one! After a shaking start, the Indian batsmen rode on Yuvi's blitz innings to post a high total of 335, which they thought would be too easy to defend. But the WI batsmen were fighting very very well. Shiv, Morton, Gayle, Ramdin... all of them chipped in. Pressure got the better of them. They all succumbed to pressure. Shiv could've played a long innings but got carried away. Ramdin gave them hopes, but then, he ran out of partners and that was the end of the innings... They were just 20 runs short and had enough balls left to take away the match. Close one.
Same place, same condition, a bit more fast track and the indian batting collapsed, eight catches behind the stumps. A fighting partnership between Dhoni and RP Singh saved India the blushes. But Morton and co knocked off those runs in no time.
Series all tied at 1-1, the caravan moved to St Lucia where the sides were welcomed more by clouds than by local crowd, who were angry as their local hero Darren Sammy was not in the squad.
Nevertheless, the match had to be played.
It was a 50 over...err, 41 over....hmmm...39 over...grrr...27 over match. By the time the WI piled up a more than run per ball score in that time, more clouds gathered around to witness the already rain-curtailed encounter. So, when the indian top order was going fine, rain came in again, and NEWS - its gonna be a 22 over innings for India. And, as has been the habit off late, India was trying to get itself into trouble while chasing. A last over hoick over cow corner by Dhoni saved India from defeat, which was looming large on India till 21.2 overs.
Last match was washed away and India won the series 2-1 ( last time around, India lost 4-1 in a dramatic series).
Plus for India - Dhoni is in good form, Nehra has made a decent comeback.
Minus - weak against swing and short ball.
Plus for WI - Rampaul is in top form, WI might've just landed on their next big thing - Darren Bravo, who has not only showed that he can keep his cool even on his debut innings when the scoreboard is asking too much of him, he also quennches the cricket lovers' thirst of watching someone of the same beauty of Lara play. He is such wonderful and proven talent. Brother Dwayne has done his homework to bring his up well!
Minus - need someone to finish off the innings while batting, and need a good bowler at the death, the open slots of which are costing them dearly in recent times.
Well then folks, the cricketing world will rub their eyes clean off any dust, put their specs on and concentrate on the Ashes now. Its going to be one hectic series and McGrath has again predicted 5-0 in favour of Australia. He never changes, nor do his words.
Pakistan move to Sri Lanka to play three tests, five ODIs. The two sides fresh from T20 WC final will like to put to the back of their minds what happened earlier this year in Pakistan and get on to some gruelling sessions of cricket. Bangladesh will tour WI for 2 tests and an ODI series (3 matches I think).
LOTTTTTTTTTs of cricket waiting for you all.
And the good news is - its gonna be all test match cricket for quite a while... No more stupid shots, no more cheerleaders dancing over a dot ball, no more respect for four slow balls an over, no more field restriction, and more of slip cordon, shine on the ball, reverse swing, rivalries, sledging and tactics. Its gonna be test at its best...wherever it is played.
Adios Amigos, I'm being TESTed now :-)