Gayle, Hinds shine in West Indian victory
Openers Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds flayed the Indian bowling attack Monday to steer the West Indies to a rousing five-wicket victory in the fifth one-dayer.india Updated: Nov 18, 2002 23:28 IST
This was a game very different from what the previous two in Gujarat have been. The second half of the match was conducted in almost total silence, except for the resounding smack of bat against ball.
Twenty thousand odd people and the 11 men in blue on the field watched like virtual zombies as man-of-the-match Wavell Hinds and centurion Chris Gayle brutalised them - rattling up 100 in 71-balls and paving the way for the tourists to take charge of the seven-match series again.
It was a game India would not like to remember - it resulted in a five-wicket loss after they piled up an impressive 290 in 48 overs.
It was also a game debutant paceman Laxmipathi Balaji will probably not forget - for all the wrong reasons. A quick word from Sourav Ganguly, a quick touch of the ground and his heart and he was on his way. Hinds welcomed him to international cricket with a cover drive. It reached the boundary before anyone had time to react.
A Ganguly misfield resulted in a single and, a couple of balls on, Gayle banged it over mid-on. Balaji's body language changed from nervousness to depression and the shoulders drooped. He bravely puffed back with all he had, only to watch Gayle put the last ball through the covers.
He was removed after two more overs resulted in 21 more runs. The only thing he can take heart from was that the vastly more experienced Javagal Srinath received more or less the same cavalier treatment, especially from Hinds.
Hinds, who probably felt that opening partner Gayle had grabbed enough of the attention in the series, seemed to have cast a Potterisque spell on the Indians. He was almost regal in the way he came out and banged the ball away with arrogant ease.
His 61-ball 80 contained 10 fours and five sixes and his attack was so total, that even when Laxman at slips dropped him off Harbhajan on 70, the collective Indian reaction - hangdog looks - seemed to indicate that it was in the nature of things that the ball would not be caught.
The assault of the Indian openers - Sehwag clobbered his way to a 39-ball 52 and Ganguly notched up 53 in 55 balls - was all but forgotten by match end.
Gayle himself went on to make an attacking 101 off 107 balls and further stymied any hopes of a fightback when a couple of wickets fell at the other end. Ganguly tried everything. If he used eight bowlers in Ahmedabad, he went one better here.
The spinners, especially Murali Kartik, gave it their best on a track that provided some assistance, but it was too much of a long haul.
By the time ICC umpire Asoka de Silva decided to end Gayle's knock by adjudging him caught behind off Harbhajan - TV replays indicated that the ball had missed the bat and wicket-keeper Rahul Dravid didn't really appeal - he had taken the game away from India and justified Carl Hooper's decision to chase.
Coming back to the bowlers, at the moment, it appears that the Indian selectors have put out an ad: "Wanted, urgently, bowlers. Medium, fast or slow medium. Should be physically tough and mentally sound. May need to endure severe battering from marauders of Carib descent. All applicants will be given a chance."
It should not mention fair, because one isn't sure whether all applicants would be fairly treated, if the chopping and changing going on among the medium and fast bowlers is an indication. We've had Ajit Agarkar, picked and dropped. Ashish Nehra, picked and dropped. JP Yadav, given quarter of a chance and kept out.
Sanjay Bangar, finally, getting a chance to show his medium pace but keeping his place on the strength of his batting. Srinath, toiling on to no avail. And now, Balaji being thrown to the lions.
To judge either the young debutant or any of the others on the basis of these tracks or use this series to decide the World Cup squad - as the think tank says is being done - makes little sense. The dice is heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen and no fast bowler on either side has been able to do anything to stop the barrage of runs.
Unfortunately for the game and the unlucky men who are given the ball and told to perform miracles, it probably doesn't matter who bowls or doesn't in the remaining two games. He who bats last will probably win again.