After India’s successful world cup campaign and the loaded schedule of IPL,a lot of fans were not really looking forward to India’s caribbean tour starting just after that. Maybe it was because of an overdose of cricket. But for the cricketers, it was their job. Maybe the BCCI needed to put in some thinking in scheduling. Nonetheless, the tour had to go on.
A second string side was selected. Some huge names like Sachin, Sehwag, Zaheer, Gambhir and Yuvraj were missing due to various reasons. The tour started with a T20 match; so dull it was, I had to be reminded I was actually watching a T20 :P!! India managed to win easily with good performances by Ashwin and others. Even West Indies had a second string side with likes of Gayle, Pollard and Bravo missing. So, all in all it was not a keenly contested T20 match,but the result went in India’s favour.
Then came the ODI’s. Everybody expected Gayle to be picked to strengthen the side. But his exclusion clearly laid out the fact that his personal issues with WICB were not resolved yet. Meanwhile, Pollard and Bravo made their return into the squad. And then it was business as usual.
The first three were yet again easy wins for India. In all of them, West Indies batted first and set India an easy target which was chased down pretty easily by our young guns! The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli contributed with the bat, whereas Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel shone with the ball. In the next two matches the same trend followed of West Indies batting first. But the problem here was the complacency of the Indian batsman. West Indies were setting the same moderate targets but we got complacent at the top order burdening the middle order batsmen like Rohit Sharma with too much. As a result, India lost the last two matches but still managed to win the series 3-2, inkeeping with our champions tag.
Now was the turn of tests. Enter the three pros, Dhoni, Laxman and Dravid, all fresh after their respective breaks. There was still no sign of Gayle in the WI team, highlighting his rift even further. First test took place at Jamaica, a slow and low track known to assist spinners. And that’s exactly how it played, as the match progressed; with spinners from both teams grabbing majority wickets. Amit Mishra was the standout bowler for India. West Indies were dismissed cheaply in both innings and a gritty knock from the “wall”, Rahul Dravid in the second innings ensured a win for India. Other batsmen could not fire but still India won the match, taking a 1-0 lead in the series.
Next destination was Barbados, a bouncy wicket. And this is where India found a go-to pace bowler in the form of Ishant Sharma. He enjoyed the bounce of the track, testing the batsmen to the hilt and grabbing loads of wickets including his first 6-wicket haul. Old fort Laxman shone with the bat but the rain-marred match resulted in a draw.
Now was the time for the series finale, for which the newly built picturesque stadium in Dominica was chosen as the venue. This too was rain-interrupted, but the last two days got really interesting. The pitch was the most batsman-friendly so far and as a result India had a significant first innings lead. The inexperienced West Indian lineup still couldn’t handle our pacemen led by Ishant who was gaining even better form. India had WI on the mat in the 2nd innings, but a certain pro Shivnarine Chanderpaul raised his hand up in his lasy hurrah on the field with a gutsy century which set Indian an uneasy target of 180 to chase in 40-odd overs. India started dangerously, but when Indian batsmen were offered the light with 16 overs remaining, India called it off. This decision is currently under scrutiny with questions being raised as to why the number one test team could not handle the task.
The end result being, India won the series 1-0, which could well have been 2-0.
The tour was also highlighted with some bad umpiring decisions, especially against Indian batsmen. Thus, forcing one of the culprit, but experienced umpire,Daryl Harper to retire without a farewell as a result of criticism from Dhoni, who had to bear the brunt of one such decision in which the wrong replay was shown to the third umpire. A big big slipup indeed!!