The mood in the camp of Team India is upbeat in the West Indies (WI), in spite of suffering a narrow 18 runs debacle against the Kiwis last month. Cricket players, specially youngsters, are trying their best to outperform their fellow teammates to cement their place in the team. Tough and healthy competition for securing a place in the team is really a positive sign for the side. So, there is no scope for laxity and carelessness for any player at any time.
India a far better side
India has proved its superiority against the former two-time world champions in the last one decade. In the last bilateral series in 2018 held in India, the Men in Blue outplayed the Windies and grabbed the five match series 4-0. One match ended in a tie which was the only notable performance of the Caribbean team. Otherwise, the host nation was unmatchable in all departments of the game. India recorded a wide margin of victory in the World Cup too.
India’s three match one day international (ODI) series against the Caribbean team is welcomed by heavy showers. Rain spoiled the first ODI at Guyana and forced the match to be abandoned just after 13 overs, which left both the captains disappointed. The Islanders were 52 for 1, Chris Gayle was dismissed cheaply on 4 when the match was called off. Indian bowlers made the life of the Caribbean batsmen difficult in the short period that the game lasted.
Port of Spain a lucky ground
After the first ODI got washed out, focus then shifted to Port of Spain where second ODI was to be held. Port of Spain is a happy hunting ground for Team India. On this ground in 1971, India overpowered the mighty West Indies and not only emerged victorious but rather registered the first Test series victory on Caribbean soil. Likewise, no one can forget the epic chase of 406 runs by the Indian batsmen in 1976 series and wrested a miracle test victory from the jaws of Clive Lloyd’s team.
Virat Kohli’s team seems to have continued this glorious legacy, and easily surpassed the Islanders by 59 runs in (DLS) method in the second ODI on Sunday. When the coin was tossed, Kohli called it right and elected to bat first. Unfortunately, famous opening pair Dhawan and Sharma left the scene early. The poster boy of Indian cricket Rishabh Pant also failed to utilise the situation and lost his wicket after making just 20.
Kohli & Shreyas thrill fans
As a result, Captain Virat Kohli as usual took the responsibility. He not only kept his wicket intact but also, rather like a role model, helped Shreyas Iyer to play his natural attacking game. The ebullient Iyer hammered well-polished 71 runs in 68 balls. He made lots of fans due to his brilliant strokes all around the stadium. In this batting spree, he hit 5 fours and 1 six. Iyer seems to be a perfect choice for India’s middle order muddle. In the end, India managed to score a competitive total 279 for 7 which was beyond the reach of the current West Indies team.
Kohli ton set a record
Kohli, the reliable captain of our Men in Blue, not only completed his ton but rather added one more feather in his illustrious cap. Hence, he went past Pakistani legend Javed Miandad’s 26 year old record and become the highest run scorer against the Caribbean team in ODIs. Although Miandad had to play 64 innings to score 1930 runs against WI, Kohli achieved this milestone in just 34 innings.
After the batsmen, it was the turn of the bowlers to win the match. Bowlers bowled with their heart and never allowed the Caribbeans to settle down and play big shots. All the leading bowlers managed to bag wickets. And the Islanders lost their wickets at regular intervals and never looked threatening enough to decimate Indian attack. But the pick of the bowlers and the man of the moment was ever reliable Bhuvneshwar Kumar in that match.
Bhuvneshwar wrecks Windies backbone
Although Bhuvi mesmerised the Windies with his lethal and accurate bowling and bagged four wickets, the high point of the match was the caught and bowled wicket of Roston Chase. Bhuvneshwar Kumar dived full-length on his own bowling of Chase’s leading edge and grabbed the ball like a superman and short circuited the gleaming hope of the Islanders.
Third and the last ODI of the series is a chance for the Windies to salvage some pride. India is not going to lose this series. At the outset, it looks like the third ODI result will also probably go in favour of India. But there is a possibility of uncertainty on the cricket ground. So, it will be wrong to completely rule out the Islanders. Men in Blue have already bagged the T20Is and are firm favourites to repeat the same story in ODIs. Following that, the two teams will feature in two Tests in Antigua and Jamaica. The Test series is especially significant because it would be played under the banner of 2019-2021 World Test Championship (WTC).