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'Lucky' India end victorious on WI tour


Chaitanya Lekhwani,Cricketnext.com
Jul 11, 2011 at 08:23am IST

New Delhi: India ended their Caribbean cruise emerging victors in both forms of the game, winning the ODI series by 3-2, a margin which looks less convincing than it shows and winning the Test series 1-0, with the Third test in Dominica ending in a draw.

But who would have thought that the World champions would reign supreme in both series in one go, defeating the West Indies in this convincing fashion for an unprecedented first time.

Because the task force that was sent to the West Indian shores to accomplish this feat and to keep the Numero Uno spot in the ICC Test rankings in their grasp was anything but capable.

'Lucky' India emerge victorious on WI tour

Team India was missing the services of match-winners of the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin and Zaheer.

A new coach, a new untested opening pair, a paper thin and circumspect middle order and a bowling attack which looked a shadow of its ruthless and mean self compared to the past 12 months.

Team India was missing the services of match-winners of the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan. The pressure to perform was at its usual intense self, inspite of knowing that a second string Indian team would be donning the white stripes against the hosts, with as many as three players making their debut.

But, atleast this time, it was luck rather than wily captaincy from MS Dhoni that rubbed off on India's fortunes.

The Ranchi stumper seems to turn everything he touches into gold, and this triumph was no different.

The Indian batting was less than ordinary and each display provided only one knock to remember, sometimes it was Rahul Dravid with his gritty century in the first Test match at Jamaica, or VVS Laxman's fluid half-centuries in the second test which were the saving grace for an Indian team which looked lost in the longest version of the game.

Dhoni again seemed to have been resting on his laurels in the batting department, with only a 74-run knock in the third Test in a partnership with Suresh Raina which steadied India after a minor hiccup to show for. The skipper's technique is clearly for all to see and needs to pull his socks up if he wants his batting to be noticed.

What clearly saved India was the umpiring or one might say the lack of it. The absence of UDRS came to back to bite India, but in some cases was also its saviour.

Where Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli might feel short-changed for the way they were given their marching orders, the 2nd and the 3rd Test proved that using the word 'harsh' would be an understatement for the decisions given to the West Indies.

The players might find themselves fortunate as this was the best chance to enter into the history books by taking advantage of a vulnerable Windies team to take the honours in the 50-over and in the 5-day version of the game.

At the same time, expect the squad to have a shy smile on their face if asked about the standard of their performance on the tour.

While Harbhajan Singh's 400 Test wickets along with Rahul 'Jammy' Dravid's 15th year in Test cricket might be the only memoirs of the trip, it was the renaissance of Delhi quick Ishant Sharma which was the flavour of the series with the England tour just a stone's throw away.

Sharma thrived under the pressure of the responsibility to carry the Indian attack and the wicket-taking duties given to him by the captain.

Reminding us of the wiry pacer that gave Ricky Ponting a headache in the tour Down Under in 2008, Ishant bowled with the same bite and similar pace which sky-rocketed him into prominence and won him accolades from many an Indian fan.

Accumulating an impressive tally of 22 wickets in three Tests, it will be a huge sigh of relief for the selectors who would have finally found a partner in crime for Zaheer Khan to share the new ball with.

With the English ready to test the Indian resolve on holding on to the No. 1 spot in the test rankings, Dhoni and Co. should be relieved that the bigwigs will be back for the English fight, but consider the Windies tour to be a lucky strike, and if you dig deep into the wicketkeeper's kit bag, don't put it past you to find a horse shoe or a clove leaf.. just in case!

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