West Indies Gifts India The Match

A purposeful chase by West Indies gave India some anxious moments, but Dwayne Bravo’s men lost direction and presented the match to the opposition in the second One-Day International at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday.

In a contest it dominated for a major part, West Indies suffered a 48-run defeat that left the series level at 1-1.

Confronted with a slow pitch and a disciplined attack, India managed a total that was hardly going to serve as a fighting target. That it became one was more due to West Indies’ generosity. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and M.S. Dhoni never took charge when it mattered and the lack of purpose in India’s batting stood out sorely.

But the West Indian response was sloppy and the result went much against the run of play.

From a sound position of 170 for two, in pursuit of 264 to win, West Indies contrived to lose the last eight wickets for a mere 45 runs as India, propelled by Mohammad Shami’s four wickets, hung in desperately in the middle overs.

Dhoni was at it with frequent bowling changes that kept the batsmen under pressure. It worked well as the batsmen generously gifted wickets away, the one that hurt most was opener Dwayne Smith falling three short of what would have been his second century in a 12-year career.

The Indian bowlers excelled in controlling the flow of runs while the West Indians played their part by indulging in some shockingly poor strokes.

The brilliant effort by Smith was wasted as he was let down by his colleagues and West Indies once again demonstrated the unpredictable aspect of its cricket. For the home team, the 105-run stand between Kohli and Raina for the fourth wicket provided an inspiring momentum.

Kohli and Raina have little in common when garnering runs. Aggression may mark their intuitive desire to dominate, but Kohli comes across as much-matured and assured in conditions that don’t test his skills outside the off-stump.

It was this flaw that hurt his reputation in England when the moving ball and the seaming one caused cheap downfalls in eight Test innings. This was not the platform that would elicit a comparison but it was a burden that weighed on his shoulders. His failures had begun to invite criticism, some of it carping, and it was time for him to step out and take charge.

Kotla, his home turf, was an ideal stage. The team management convinced Kohli to drop down the order. The move elevated his form to the extent that he scored a half-century, not fluent all the time, but certainly bearing the stamp of concentration. Curtailing his penchant for compulsive strokeplay, he came to terms with his game in the company of Raina, who has been enjoying a good run with the bat.

Raina was into his stride quickly but Kohli played the waiting game. He had no choice really. He had to play to his potential and eventually he did.

On a slow pitch strokemaking was always going to be an arduous job. The perils of playing a bit early meant the batsmen had to be judicious. Raina had no such issues but Kohli was in a different state. The move to bat a slot lower allowed him the chance to not only study the game but also face an older ball in the 13th over.

It helped. Kohli regained some confidence, watched Raina thrive at the other end, and joined him in a constructive stand that resurrected the Indian innings. But the pace suffered once Raina fell to an ambitiously lofted shot, the catch taken on the line.

Then Kohli’s dismissal dried the run-flow even as Dhoni made an effort. But this was not a pitch that encouraged strokes on the rise and both Raina and Kohli paid for the indiscretion. Dhoni adapted and made runs that counted. In the end they did as West Indies frittered the game away.
(The Hindu)

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