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Chancey misses for West Indies

Vivian Richards feels there is not much of a gap between the two teams at the moment, but it is important for the hosts to maintain their commitment level.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 12:05 IST

There's nothing like a close game to set the tone of a tour. I had said that this West Indian side has the ability to spring a few surprises, and they really made the Indians earn their victory on Thursday.

However, I was also hugely impressed with the Indians. Their fielding has improved, with the younger players exhibiting a lot of urgency and desperation. Then there was Rahul Dravid, who was rock solid as usual.

He is a wonderful player for youngsters to emulate, and it's no surprise that so many young cricketers are blossoming under his captaincy.

From the West Indian point of view, it was wonderful to see Chris Gayle get back among runs after an off-colour performance against the Zimbabweans. He came out to bat with his thinking cap on, and played some magnificent shots on his way to a century which helped him surpass both Gordon Greenidge and me on the 100s list.

Unfortunately for the hosts, they were not able to accelerate in the last 10 overs, and that's what cost them the 20 runs that made all the difference. The Indians had bowled plenty of extra balls and the lower-order batsmen were unable to kick on after Chris Gayle's dismissal.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul tried but was unable to take on the bowlers and India's fielding, with Dravid's catch of Gayle in particular, helped restrict the West Indians to a manageable total.

To be fair to the Indian bowlers, this was their first game in the West Indies, and the inexperience was bound to show at the start. However, all of them came back quite well in the end, which means that they will go into tomorrow's game with some of their confidence restored.

During the Indian chase, Dravid was the main architect, but Mohd Kaif helped him as well. Kaif was a bit fortunate, but he made the most of his good fortune to get back among the runs.

I was happy with what I saw of the dashing young wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He is part of the magnificent young breed of cricketers in world cricket, whom old-timers like me crave to see.

He has positive attitude and aggression, and we will hear a lot more about him if he continues to learn his trade well.

The hosts erred by falling short of 280, and then they also fielded below par. However, there were flashes of genuine brilliance as well, and it's important for the team to feed on that in the future games.

There is not much of a gap between the two teams at the moment, but it is important for the hosts to maintain their commitment level.

Even on Thursday, the result could have been different if a few crucial chances were held. There are four games left and the Indians will know they will have to bowl better if they want to go 2-0 ahead.