Despite all the exposure that the Indian Premier League provides, it is sometimes easy for players to assume that Twenty20 cricket is simply about hitting the cruise control button.
India were greeted by dark grey clouds at the Queen's Park Oval as they kicked off their Caribbean tour with the only Twenty20 international on Saturday.
Although every Indian player had come straight off their IPL assignment, the lessons learnt from the T20 event rather than fatigue accumulated from the long tournament came in handy as India won the opening fixture by 16 runs.
India, asked to bat first after Sammy won a good toss and then left reeling, recovered to a solid 159 for six. And
spinners, led by Harbhajan Singh strangled the hosts on a slow pitch to restrict them to 143 for five.
It did not start too well for the former World Twenty20 champions. The first few batsmen succumbed to shots that would have normally raced away for runs.
Sammy must be the most underestimated seamer in international cricket but he has showed through this season he is determined to keep plugging away. That attitude netted him success against Pakistan, and soon India were staring at a low total after the St. Lucian scalped four for 16 in his sensational spell to reduce the visitors to 56 for four in the ninth over.
Shikhar Dhawan, lucky to get a look-in thanks to the absence of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, steered one overhead to the ’keeper. Virat Kohli, who played two typically proper shots to the fence, miscued to point before the other opener Parthiv Patel guided one to short third man, leaving Sammy with a hat-trick chance. Suresh Raina was the final victim. In the end, Badrinath steadied the ship with a 37-ball 43.
Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo played some classy shots but Raina stuck mostly to spin to keep them quiet for the most part after two early setbacks. But with 75 needed off the last five, Harbhajan came on and removed both batsmen. Samuels skied one to be caught by Parthiv Patel and Bravo dragged onto the stumps two deliveries later, effectively sealing the game in India's favour.