Dravid can now hold his head high
It was a fitting finale to a series which India dominated. The end result was a fair result, writes Atul Sondhi.india Updated: Jul 04, 2006 12:25 IST
Rahul Dravid can now hold his head high. Faced with immense criticism after the ODI fiasco and failure to convert overwhelming advantage in tests into victory, it was always going to be trial by fire Kingston. And it was only his single minded determination which helped India achieve what they threatened to achieve in every test of this tour, and the last two tours of the Caribbean, but could never achieve. A rare series win.
The Wall's twin-knocks helped India to what looked an impossible job at one stage. His dour vigil at the crease and single-minded determination, complimented by the efforts of another Bangalorean Anil Kumble, turnbunator Harbhajan and 'Killer Keralite' Sreesanth ensured that Port-of-Spain did not remain the only West Indies venue where India had ever won.
After three days of intense drama, now Jamaica too is in the sacred list of Indian successes overseas. The painful memory of previous near-misses is gone. After all, a bunch of Indian youngsters led by an inspirational captain and no-nonsense coach achieved a rare series win after 35 years . Something not many had foreseen once India lost the ODIs.
Leading by example
On a pitch offering uneven bounce, Dravid's straight bat was the best bet to keep India in the hunt. And he did not disappoint in this do-or-die battle. True to his character, the Bangalorean did not try to poke at the deliveries outside the offstump and played the ball strictly on merit. Take the second innings. Out of 166 balls that he faced, the Indian captain hit just 30 scoring shots. As many as 136 balls were dot balls. In the first innings, Dravid hit just 41 scoring shots off the 215 balls faced.
Dravid's vigil as India chased victory
|Runs||Scoring shots||Dotball %|
The Indian Captain scored only once out of every five deliveries. And as result makes it clear, there was no need to do anything else in a low scoring match on this trickiest of pitches.
History turned upside down
Even though this West Indies side is a considerably weakened outfit, witnessed in its performance in the first two tests, It had a glorious record at this venue. Before this match, Kingston was the second best ground for the West Indies the world over.
Highest winning percentage for WI on a ground
[Min.10 Tests, before India series)
|The Oval (Eng)||16||6||7||37.50|
It is clear the hosts least expected a loss having such a record at Kingston. So they may probably be forgiven for hoping that they will have a memorable test here after escaping defeat narrowly in two out of three tests in the series.
Critical Last Five
Again, resistance from last five wickets saved India. While batsmen, barring Dravid, flopped in both the innings, Dhoni, Kumble and the rest of the tail helped India add some useful runs in the 1st as well as 2nd innings. In fact, more runs were scored by the last five wicket partnerships at Kingston than the top five.
(Runs made by top five and bottom five partnership)
|Top 5 partnerships||154||206|
|Bottom 5 partnerships||217||116|
However, from the West Indies side, the bottom five partnerships did not have much to contribute except in the second innings and that probably was the difference between the two sides. India bottom five made nearly twice as many runs as the Bottom five of the West Indies.
Spinners in Tandem
After a long time, the two Indian spinners clicked in tandem. Choosing not to go with three pacers was a great risk taken by Chappell and Dravid, and not many believed that it was a wise idea on a traditionally pacy track.
However, Harbhajan in the first innings and Kumble in second gave some of their finest performances. While Harbhajan's five wickets in less than five overs put India in the driving seat after 1st innings, Kumble's six wicket haul thrust the final nail into the West Indies' coffin.
India finally achieved what had eluded them for three and a half decade. And they had the experience of their captain and two spinners to thank for it.
The visitors for once did not miss Sachin Tendulkar and may be Sourav will be forced to spend some more time in the county cricket! This team not only did not require their services, but with little more luck, could have been the winner by a more impressive 2-0 or 3-0 margin.