India, West Indies, Pakistan and a redemption season in cricket
Remember, the last time in the West Indies, on his debut series in 2011, Virat Kohli surprisingly couldn’t get going. He managed only 76 runs in five innings. He is dealing with that unfinished business, five years on, in style.cricket Updated: Jul 22, 2016 13:16 IST
Virat Kohli’s legion of fans must be delighted he struck yet another Test century, 12th overall and fifth as skipper, to dominate the first day of the Antigua Test. While Kohli’s unbeaten 143 simply extends his sensational current run with the bat, he has promptly brought about a course correction in the Caribbean.
Remember, the last time in the West Indies, on his debut series in 2011, Kohli surprisingly couldn’t get going. He managed only 76 runs in five innings. He is dealing with that unfinished business, five years on, in style.
But it is a real redemption season for three other cricketers.
On the eve of the Test, not far from the North Sound stadium, was celebration time for West Indies players, who were at the annual awards function jointly organised by the West Indies Cricket Board and the players’ association.
Those who make up the two bodies have been at each others’ throats for a while. Hence it was heart-warming to see one man who had come in for lot of criticism, Marlon Samuels, chosen for two of the biggest prizes of the evening.
The Jamaican batsman troubles, including a fixing ban, has overshadowed his talent. And after producing his second Man-of-the-Match winning performance in a World Twenty20 final, at the Eden Gardens in April, Samuels had attacked Shane Warne for constant criticism, and England all-rounder Ben Stokes for provoking him during the final.
At the post-final press conference, Samuels said: “Every team I play for, Shane Warne has a problem with me,” he said. “I don’t know what, I’ve never disrespected him, it seems he has a lot inside him that he needs to come out with. I don’t appreciate the way he continues to talk about me, and the things he keeps doing. I don’t know, maybe it is because my face is real and his face is not.”
He was fined 30% of his match fee by the ICC for “abusive and offensive language” directed at Stokes after a verbal clash during the final.
Samuels’ behaviour was heavily criticised by the West Indies board, already under fire from T20 skipper Darren Sammy and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. It was revealed that the players almost boycotted the WT20 due to contractual disputes before Kevin Mitchell, the Prime Minister of Grenada, brokered peace.
It seemed Samuels had thrown it all away. But still being given his due for his game indicates the willingness to give him a fresh chance. Samuels won the Cricketer-of-the-Year and ODI Player-of-the-Year awards.
Push-ups and glory
A welcome redemption song was song in another faraway island, England. But the celebration with push-ups was in the Pakistani camp, after their emphatic first Test win.
Young fast bowler Mohammad Amir made his comeback after five years out due to a spot-fixing ban and finished on the winning side. He didn’t take many wickets, but his disciplined bowling helped his teammate’s comeback.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah became the first leg-spinner in 11 years to be ranked the No 1 Test bowler after his 10-wicket match haul at Lord’s.
It was Yasir’s first Test since November, 2015, having served a three-month suspension by the International Cricket Council early this year for a doping code breach. Shah had tested positive for chlortalidone, an prohibited substance in banned diuretics and masking agents as well in medication for blood pressure.
Yasir had pleaded he inadvertently took his wife’s BP medication, but the suspension barred him from the Asia Cup and World Twenty20.
It was a wrong move for a bowler who had to wait nine years after making his first-class debut in 2002 to play for Pakistan, and another five years to make his Test debut. Even that opportunity came only because off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was banned for chucking in September, 2014.