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Inexperience cost India the series

Someone like Sehwag ought to take a little more responsibility and allow his team to reap the benefits of his considerable experience, writes Vivian Richards.

india Updated: May 28, 2006 00:58 IST

Well, the series is won and I have to give credit where it is due. Brian Lara, not exactly the most popular choice in his third stint as captain, seems to have infused this West Indies squad with a spirit that has seen them out of tight situations. He has made superb bowling changes, constantly encouraged the youngsters, and at Port of Spain on Friday, set an example with his batting.

Along the way, he has found able allies in Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo, and these two young men have become pivots around which the team revolves. Sarwan definitely looks like he is working to take over the mantle of team mentor in the build-up to the World Cup, while Bravo has emerged as a magnificent cricketer. He displays an effervescence in his batting, bowling and fielding that lifts the team. A lot of people have been critical of his bowling, but he can summon plenty of variety and accuracy when required, and scores regularly too.

All that West Indies need to remember now is that a few games do not make a summer. They have displayed the kind of commitment that is crucial in a team sport, but they have to remain focused and carry this winning habit forward. It is heartening that they have won a series against India, who were going to be a far tougher challenge than an inexperienced Zimbabwe, but the good work needs to be kept up.

As for the Indians, well, some people would probably say that they underestimated their opponents, but I would put their losses down to the fact that they have played some relatively inexperienced guys in this series, and given them a chance to prove their worth. In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, the time is certainly ripe for these youngsters to do so, but I also feel that someone like Virender Sehwag ought to take a little more responsibility and allow his team to reap the benefits of his considerable experience.

India certainly have the basis of a good team if you look at the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mohammad Kaif, and Sehwag. Rahul Dravid has quite a few years of cricket left in him, and all this team needs is probably to fill up the little pockets here and there with a few more experienced players. With the Test series approaching and VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble set to join the squad, I think India should look to take away as much as they can from the Tests and put the one-day series defeat behind them.

Having said that, I think the West Indies will not take the pressure off the Indians in the last ODI game. I certainly wouldn't, because I think there is a message to drive home — the opposition should not have the satisfaction of a win before the Test series begins. Cricket is a lot about the mind, and West Indies have acquired the upper hand just now, after a prolonged slump. They should build on that.  (Gameplan)