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India in WI: The kill-thrill-kill series

Despite thrill on the final days of the three Tests, the series is turning out to be a nightmare, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 11:47 IST

Two tournaments are simultaneously going on, and with equally contrasting results. While some enthralling matches in the FIFA World Cup are keeping most sports buffs awake well past midnight, the ongoing series in the West Indies is threatening to do exactly the opposite - put them to some sound sleep.

An uninspiring West Indies captain, a nervous umpire, unsporting pitches, and fickle weather are all conspiring to ensure a 0-0 result unless the teams come up with something really magical.

Urgency to win

Are the West Indies really eager to win a series against India? It will be outrageous to say no, but equally outrageous are their tactics! Batting for three days for such a slow run-rate is one of these.

A team like Australia, even when chips are down, goes for a run-rate of about four to four-and-a-half to give themselves a decent chance to bowl the opposition out. This West Indies side does exactly the opposite.

Even when they are going strong, they tend to move slow. The former champions fail to realise that they have the likes of Pedro and Collymore, and not Lee and McGrath to finish the opposition twice in limited time.

The West Indies run rate at home in 500 plus 1st innings scores (Since 2000):

 3.41  581    India

  St Kitts/2006

 3.57 543/5 declared South AfricaGeorgetown/2004-05Drawn
 3.72 751/5 declared   EnglandSt John's/2003-04Drawn
 3.07 501    IndiaGeorgetown/2001-02Drawn

So it certainly does not come as surprise if the West Indies are unable to press home the advantage of scoring 500 plus first innings score in home conditions. Their progress is painfully slow. It dulls the momentum beyond imagination!

Generous Host!

Did Lara really want to win the test after a face-off with the West Indies' Board on bowlers' selection? Was this greatest of players overwhelmed, or shocked, by the unfamiliar situation the West Indies suddenly found themselves in?

Were the West Indies bowlers so tired that Lara was reluctant to enforce the follow on? Was it the pain-barrier West Indian bowlers were unwilling to cross, or was it simply the fear that the likes of Kumble and Harbhajan could be deadly in the final session on the final day?

One will never know the truth, whatever the skipper says. But in the hindsight, two Indian wickets in the final session on the fourth day could have been the road to victory for the hosts.

One hundred and twenty to 130 overs at the Indians over two days would have meant some unbearable pressure, and an elusive win for the home team. Lara may have lost the plot.

Nervous debutant (Next page) >>