New Delhi: Even though India won the opening one-day international against West Indies with five overs to spare, there was a phase in the middle when they were on the verge of hitting the self-destruct button.
Chasing an ordinary total of 214, India lost the wickets of Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli within seven overs. The slow and turning pitch that had earlier troubled the West Indies batsmen, was not the toughest of pitches but it seemed to be playing on the minds of the Indian batsmen as well.
S Badrinath, who was the hero of the T20 game, was extremely uncomfortable at the Queen's Park Oval on Monday. He played 11 dot balls before edging a Devendra Bishoo delivery to leave India at 61/3 in the 16th over. Shikhar Dhawan, who had opened the batting with Patel, brought up a fine half-century but fell to a pull shot that was poorly selected and poorly timed. At 104/4 in the 26th over, the match's fate hung in balance.
While Rohit Sharma finally guided India to the win, his start to the innings was very unconvincing.
That the West Indies spinners were calling the shots is clearly evident from the fact that the India went through a phase where no boundary was scored in a space of 80 deliveries.
While Rohit Sharma finally guided India to the win, it was Suresh Raina's presence that ensured that Rohit did not throw away his wicket. Another wicket immediately after the departure of Dhawan would have put the visitors under tremendous pressure.
Rohit, for reasons best known to him, wanted to slog from the word go. He missed and edged quite a few times and was just plain simple lucky to not get dismissed. It was an extremely unconvincing way to play after having got the chance to come back and don India colours.
Thankfully, he realised soon enough that he will have to run for his runs and so he did. And once Raina joined him in the middle, the two picked the runs and begun to find the gaps as they added 80 runs for the fifth wicket. That partnership was the key to India's win.
In terms of bowling, India's bowlers did a fine job on a track that provided some assistance. Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh went for 108 runs from the 30 overs they bowled and picked up five wickets, but it must be said that barring Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels there seemed to be no intent to go for the shots and for the runs from the other West Indian batsmen.
It was a below-par total and India should have overhauled this with much more ease than what they did on Monday.