After being thrashed in the Test matches, the West Indians, and even the Indian fans for that matter, would have hoped for a better contest in the one-dayers. However, following the result of the opening ODI at Kochi on Thursday, when India again trounced the Windies without much trouble, the chances of a competitive series are not too encouraging. Neither their batsmen nor their bowlers could exercise any kind of control over the Indians as a result of which the match turned out to be a disappointingly one-sided affair.
The key reason why West Indies could not stand up to the challenge at Kochi was because their batsmen had a major struggle against the Indian spinners. The fact that eight of the 10 wickets to fall went to the slower bowlers explains a lot. What would worry the visitors the most is that even a part-time spinner like Suresh Raina was allowed to complete his quota of 10 overs, and three wickets actually fell to him. In one-day cricket, the part-timer is looked upon as a weak link, but Raina not only conceded under four runs an over but troubled most Windies batsmen, snaring key men like Samuels, Simmons and Deonarine.
When West Indies struggled so much against Raina, they couldn’t have performed much better against the regular spinners. Ravindra Jadeja, returning from an injury after missing the Test series, once again showed why he his left-arm spin is such a great asset to this ODI side. His dismissal of Johnson Charles was a combination of good bowling and excellent fielding, and the wicket set the batting side on the backfoot. The other wickets he got, that of skipper Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy, also came courtesy some extremely tight and sensible bowling. Raina and Jadeja were so effective that Ashwin didn’t have to do much except cleaning up the tail.
West Indies must be extremely disappointed with their showing, especially since they had players who could tackle the Indian bowling. Unfortunately for them, Chris Gayle, who would have been keen to make amends after his struggles in the Tests, got himself run out rather ridiculously. To make matters worse, he tumbled and got himself injured, and has most probably been ruled out of the series. With the Windies already struggling, that will be a massive blow for the visitors. Further, they will need better efforts from their experienced pros like Samuels, Simmons and skipper Bravo. Like in the Tests, a couple of batsmen got starts – Charles and Darren Bravo – but did not carry on. That won’t do for the Windies.
India’s batsmen continued to build on the positives from the Australia series. While Shikhar Dhawan fell early, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli continued with their great run, the latter actually equally the record for the fastest to 5000 runs during his breezy knock. The only disappointing aspect was that both missed out on hundreds. Also, Raina had another failure, which would put added pressure on him. And while Yuvraj Singh remained unbeaten, he wasn’t comfortable out in the middle. So, while India remain favourites. West Indies could trouble them by preying on the struggling batsmen.
--By A Cricket Analyst