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Saturday, Aug 13, 2022
Outlook.com
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Opinion

Foot Off The Pedal

On Thursday the Indian bowlers were caught unawares because they did not believe the match could start on time due to rain. Here the batsmen did not feel the need to apply themselves since the target was so low.

Foot Off The Pedal
| AP
Foot Off The Pedal
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I suppose India made a similar mistake to what they did in the first game by taking their foot off the pedal. On Thursday, their bowlers had been caught unawares because they did not believe the match could start on time due to overnight rain. Here the batsmen did not feel the need to apply since the target was so low. They took their eyes off the work ahead and a sequence of wins was interrupted.

India were also guilty of playing lofted strokes on a wicket which demanded grafting. Quite a few perished doing so. In smaller targets, it is always an issue with the batting team. Every batsman tends to leave the job to the next because the target is so low. Suddenly, the loss of a few wickets and the prospects of an unlikely batting mishap are heightened. That's what happened on Saturday.

Just a run stood between India and yet another win in pursuit. Nobody had foreseen it since the target was so low and the opponents were the lowly West Indies. Instead of picking on your boys, I guess you need to give credit where it belongs. Brian Lara's men did a few very smart things in the field on Saturday.

Dwayne Bravo's final delivery encapsulated his team's verve. He had just been smacked through the covers and another run would have at least preserved India's lead in the series. He now chose to bowl a slower delivery which appeared a low full toss. Instead, it was turned into a yorker by the batsman. Bravo dared when he had been softened up. That alone seemed to have swayed cricketing gods in his favour.

I guess many would wonder if only Yuvraj Singh had pushed the low full toss straight for a single. It would have at least secured a tie. But he did not have faith in his last partner's ability to make anything out of the final two deliveries.

Having come thus far, he was not prepared to be turned away from the gates of victory. His was a logical choice even though it was a high-risk shot. Yuvraj is the last man you should hold up for India's defeat.

Nor I guess it would appear right to pick on the decision to field first. India had won 17 successive run chases and so rests its case. It is also not quite true that this team becomes rudderless if Rahul Dravid leaves the scene early. I mean Yuvraj played a fantastic innings on Saturday.

There have been instances in recent months when a (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni or a Yuvraj or a (Suresh) Raina have hauled the team past the finish line. This Indian team has many match-winners.

Instead, you should admire the way the West Indians fielded in the afternoon. Ramnaresh Sarwan's absence after a long innings was not unexpected. But it afforded substitute Dwayne Smith a chance to showcase his talent. He was terrific in the field as were the others.

A few of the catches by the bowlers in their follow through, like Ian Bradshaw and Chris Gayle doing it to Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh, came at critical junctures.

Bradshaw showed his value up front. In the first game he had immediately made an impression after new ball bowlers Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor had sprayed around their thunderbolts. Here the mistake was rectified and he was given the first use of the red cherry. His early strikes created those self doubts in the mind of the Indian batsmen.

If Sarwan's batting was potent, the potential of a few others, like Carlton Baugh Jr, was also noticeable. Smith is another one who can be of immense help if he picks up his bowling a notch or two above the present level.

This wicket had slowed up appreciably by the afternoon and I would rather put it down to heavy rain of the past few days. Both the teams are strong in batting and yet both fell short of raising a 200-run mark in their innings.

A win for the West Indies is so much a matter of happiness for fans across the Caribbean. The full-throated support would now be more noticeable in subsequent matches.

The series has been brought alive by two close games even though I still feel that the Indians carry far too many potent guns in their artillery.

If the strip at St Kitts is indeed supportive of quick bowlers, then the one-day series could go down to the wire. Even though fortuitous, this win of Saturday, has been good for the coming weeks.

PTI

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