The ongoing series between a young West Indies and a developmental, rather than second-string, India was pretty much a battle of equals in the closely-fought first ODI in Cuttack.
However, when it came to the mental aspect, as was evident in the way India hung on while the Caribbeans yet again failed to finish it off on Tuesday, the gap between the teams clearly showed.
The Caribbean crusaders, who have dominated India in phases over the last month but are still searching for their first victory on the tour, were hoping to turn the tide going into the second ODI at the picturesque Dr YSR Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium on Friday.
West Indies cannot ask for a better venue for that. The stadium that’s sandwiched between a hill and the sea should make them feel at home.
But as their batting unit, which has let them down time and again, slogged it out at the splendid practice facility for almost two hours, they would have realised that more than the surroundings, at least one of them will have to stand up and produce a match-winning knock.
Although Adrian Barath, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo and Kieron Pollard batted in the middle of the practice ground with fielders placed in the inner circle, one could sense that the enormity of the task of competing against India in India was weighing on their mind."India have won the last 10 games at home. When you have a winning run, you always tend to get a way to go over the line," skipper Darren Sammy said on Thursday.
“We as a young team, we need to find a way out, whether it’s mentally, physically or tactically. I believe in all the guys here. A win is just around the corner. It could be tomorrow.”
Despite the bashing in England, the world champions are kings at home. They underlined that with their 5-0 whitewash of Alastair Cook and Co in the return leg in October.
The last ODI loss the Men in Blue suffered in their backyard was more than eight months ago, when they lost to South Africa in a World Cup league game.
Perhaps that’s why a side with plenty of inexperienced faces scraped through to a one-wicket victory. The way two youngsters batting at No 10 and 11 hung on to score the last 11 runs shows their confidence.
“We just stay cool and calm. That’s the quality of the Indian dressing room. We believe we can win from any situation,” captain Virender Sehwag summed it up minutes after the nail-biting victory.
The Caribbeans will have plenty of catching up to do if they hope to change that mood in the Indian dressing room on Friday.