Why India did not win at Antigua | india | Hindustan Times
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Why India did not win at Antigua

The problem was more with batting than with the bowling, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 15:31 IST

When the final day of the Antigua Test began, India were fighting against the tide of history.

First, they had never beaten the West Indies at any other ground except the Port of Spain.

Second, the opponents were being marshalled by a man who had scored 775 runs in two record-breaking innings at this very ground. His troops were not expected to surrender meekly on the final day.

Third, only four times had India taken all ten West Indies wickets in a day in the West Indies.

India taking all ten WI wickets in West Indies (on single day)

WI Score

Venue 

Season

Day

Result for India 

 140 Bridgetown 1996-97 3rd Lost
 214 Port-of-Spain 1970-71 1st Won
 181 Kingston 1970-71 4th Draw
 253 Kingston 1961-62 1st Lost

In the end it remained that way. Just one good delivery was the difference between the West Indies' resilience and India's failure to win the Test.But India would have had more time to bowl that final good delivery if the batsmen were a little more enterprising on the fourth day.



The most important reason for India's failure to win lay not on the fifth day, but a day before when some slow progress left the visitors with just five overs to bowl at Gayle and Ganga at the fag end of the day.

With little bit more enterprise in the middle, they could well have ended with about ten overs more at the West Indies, than five.

Lost momentum

Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid were going great guns when the play began on the fourth day. Gainingfrom some lapses on the field, their partnership rocketed from 101 to 150 in just 74 balls (nearly two runs off every three balls).

But then, quite inexplicably, there was some break in the tempo. The final 53 runs of the partnership came at the rate of just about two runs per over.

 Runs

Balls 

SR 

 1-50 126 39.68
 51-100 98 51.02
 101-150 74 67.56
 150-203 133 39.84

The West Indies bowling was the same -- off colour all the time. But with Jaffer in search of a personal milestone (a double century), it once again brought into critical focus Indian obsession with personal landmarks at the cost of the urgency of the situation.

 

 Sunday

 Monday pre lunch

Monday post lunch 

Pacers  32.07 45.71 38.70
Spinners  49.25 93.33 65.38

If one looks at the strike-rate, it is very much clear that even spinners were able to put them in shackles in post-lunch session on day four. That they played like millionaires in that critical session was little too much in the conditions ideal for batting.

Middle over crisis

Yuvraj and Kaif are very fluent players, extremely good runners between the wickets. So if fours and sixes were not coming, they could have done with some crisp running to pace the innings.

However, the fifth wicket partnership between them was a damper. Just 44 runs came off as many 109 deliveries!In fact, Yuvraj's individual 39 runs took as many as 84 deliveries. Even he will count it as a failure, albeit a rare failure.

 

 Balls

Runs 

Strike-rate 

 Yuvraj-Jaffer 44 25 56.81
 Yuvraj-Kaif 109 44 40.36
 Dhoni-Kaif 90 102 113.33

There was nothing much in the West Indies' bowling after the departure of Edwards, their main weapon. But India, at times, played the rest of the cast as cautiously as they were facing Ambrose and Walsh.

That happened at the critical stages of the Indian innings and eventually turned out to be the difference between winning and losing.

Indian batsmen did make a very big score, but critical breaks in tempo eventually turned out to be the difference between glory and disappointment.