Dravid steers India to sensational win
Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Bangar steered India to a thrilling victory against Windies in fourth ODI.india Updated: Nov 16, 2002 13:28 IST
He is stoic, almost serene and rarely given to bouts of emotion like his more demonstrative colleagues. He will probably never tear his shirt off and wave it in the air, make obscene gestures at the press box or even make any pointed remarks in public about anything that gets him mad. And he is, for the most, India's most dependable Test batsman.
No wonder then, that they call him The Rock.
But on Friday, Rahul Dravid probably wished that he could throw away that carefully cultivated exterior and do an uninhibited jig around the Sardar Patel Gujarat stadium in front of over 50,000 delirious supporters, as he led India to an unlikely, amazing five-wicket win over the West Indies in the fourth one-day international here.
It was quite unbelievable. There were 14 balls left when India successfully completed chasing the West Indian target of 324 --- not a small task by any means and definitely not under lights.
What made matters more fascinating was that the other protagonist in the pulsating thriller at the Motera is probably even less prone to showing any emotion, on or off the field.
No one expected anything much from Sanjay Bangar.
While he has played differently in the domestic game, at the international level, he is seen more as a gatherer of runs than a plunderer. His highest in the four one-day internationals he has played till date was 37.
Once Yuvraj Singh and crisis man Mohammad Kaif fell with India needing nearly a hundred runs more in about 13 overs, many in the crowd headed for a quick getaway.
That was all before Bangar exploded and, in the bargain, probably changed the way India looks at him forever. He played like a man possessed --- perhaps he was.
His 41-ball 57 contained five boundaries and two uncharacteristic sixes, one straight over bowler Chris Gayle's head and the other, driving Pedro Collins
His double act with Rahul Dravid, which resulted in 94 runs off 62 balls, was a delight.
They didn't miss a step, making the singles into twos with almost telepathic accord and constantly looking to smack the ball to the fence.
The West Indians, who were almost celebrating the balls to run ratio when Kaif departed, just didn't know what to do.
They tried pitching it up short --- something that worked a third time in a row on Virender Sehwag --- they tried their bit bowlers. Nothing worked.
Backed by an almost frenzied crowd, India's batsmen did it again and this, in spite of the amount of help the wicket was giving to the Windies pacemen.
This win was also a reflection of the depth in the Indian batting and the ability of someone, somewhere down the line, to come up with the goods when required.
Given that, it's also time the think-tank gave serious thought to what their bowlers are doing.
So much has been written about the messed up state of the Indian bowling that it seems pointless to write too much more. What can one say? That Ashish Nehra's sole purpose in the match --- he does nothing much on the field and is a write-off with the bat --- seemed to be to help the opposition put up as challenging a total as possible, with his five overs going at nearly 10 apiece.
Or that Javagal Srinath, after a great first maiden over, where he got the ball to consistently go past Chris Gayle's bat, seemed to tire of the contest and was content to let the batsmen get the better of him.
Ganguly, who was forced to use eight bowlers in all -- only Kaif, Laxman and Dravid did not bowl -- could only grit his teeth and watch as they piled up a mammoth score.
Man-of-the-match Chris Gayle was in outstanding form, completing the century he missed out in Rajkot and making it his second in the series after Nagpur.
Racing to 140, he seemed to be saying, "Anything he can do, I can do better." He was also involved in a 148-run partnership with Ramnaresh Sarwan (99no), who seems to have finally delivered in this series, on the promise he has always shown.
The Windies are happy enough with the way they've played this far. Having levelled matters, India though, have a reputation to protect. They need to win the rest in style.
First Published: Nov 15, 2002 14:25 IST