India knew that they had to beat hosts West Indies at Port of Spain handsomely to stay alive in the competition. They managed to do so successfully, and it was most amazing to see the manner in which they fought back after the reversals in the first two games, especially the massive loss to Sri Lanka. What was most admirable about India’s match-winning performance against West Indies was the fact that they learnt from their mistakes in the earlier games, and improved on their showing in the batting as well as the bowling department.
Pleasingly, the most significant contribution came from the captain himself. Virat Kohli was under definite pressure going into the do-or-die game. He had looked out of sorts with the bat during India’s defeat in the first two matches, and his leadership too did not inspire much confidence. However, Kohli put all the negatives behind him, and came up with a performance worthy of a captain. The most striking aspect of his innings was that he brought out his best game when India was under pressure. Batting first, India were crumbling at the death, when Kohli single-handedly turned the tide with some amazing strokes.
Apart from Kohli’s excellent batting, there were a few other positives as well for the Indians in the batting department. Shikhar Dhawan roared back to his run-making spree with a fluent half-century. At the other end, Rohit Sharma also supported him well. It was not a co-incidence that Dhawan and Sharma put on another century stand, and India ended up victorious. The impact of their partnership just goes to show how crucial the openers have become to India’s fortunes. Yet again though Sharma fell when he should have carried on. He is for sure exasperating the selectors.
In spite of the solid batting performance, there is definitely a worry for India in the batting department. Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik haven’t been among the runs, and more significantly haven’t looked in good touch. Had it not been for Ravichandran Ashwin’s cameo, Kohli might have ended up being stranded at one end. India would want Raina and Karthik to get among the runs in the next game against Sri Lanka. With MS Dhoni out, his Chennai Super Kings teammate Murali Vijay is getting an opportunity to bat lower down the order, and must utilise the same to his advantage.
The Indian dressing room would have been pleased to see the team’s bowling on Friday. There is no doubt that they were absolutely rubbish against the Sri Lankans, which reflected in the fact that they picked up only one wicket. The return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar made a big difference as he got the major scalps. In Kumar’s presence, Umesh Yadav also looked a lot more effective as he got among the wickets as well. Ditto with Ishant Sharma. Ravindra Jadeja meanwhile would have been glad to pick up a couple of scalps after his struggles in the earlier games.
Courtesy the resounding victory against Windies, India can breathe easy, at least for the moment.
--By A Cricket Analyst