Colin Croft

Colin Croft

Commentary by Colin E. H. Croft

West Indies were magnificent in ODI No. 1 v India, but expect the hosts to come back with a big bang.

Yesterday’s game would have showed what direction the Indians will take for this series.

It would also have shown if WI could maintain that intensity from the first game, trying to be consistent.

Not for nothing has India such talents as batsmen Shikhar Dharwan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.

Shami is a good fast bowler, tall and elastic.  If he is rested enough, he could prove a handful for this and the Test series.  But, like his team-mates, he could be jaded after so much recent work.

India will try hard to hit back immediately.  In ODI No. 1, they were badly outplayed and overshadowed, situations they have become quite unaccustomed to in recent times, so look out!

But WI cricketers in India must also continue to be angry, even though their public, quite unfriendly and distasteful tete-a- tete with West Indies Players Association, and indirectly, with West Indies Cricket Board, has simmered down, at least for the time being.  All are thankful for the professionalism shown.

With WI’s team on the up-and-up, this unfortunate public shindig was simply not necessary at this time.

Surely, from two published letters from Messrs Dwayne Bravo on behalf of the players in India, and that response by WIPA President Wavell Hinds, it is quite clear that full communications are still lacking.

Anyway, that visage of ODI No. 1 seemed to show that WI players’ attitudes need stoking.  If that is so, then, for whatever reasons, they must remain aggrieved.  That victory was pure gold; truly amazing!

Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin were highlighted in my preview of this series.  I had a feeling that especially Samuels would grasp this, probably his last opportunity, to show how good he really still is.

It was a tremendous pleasure to admire Samuels playing both left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Misra with a confidence and assurance seldom recently seen by any team playing against India.

Carl Hooper and Lawrence Rowe, classical batsmen in their day, would have been proud to have played such an innings as Samuel’s 126 no., which included eleven fours and four sixes.

What a momentous come-back innings, one that would be quite hard to replicate, but would at least have given great confidence!

The thought must also always be that one of the first four WI batsmen must be prepared to bat though a 50-overs innings.  With Samuels managing exactly that in ODI No. 1, it was a big bonus for West Indies.

Also, any team batting first should almost always aspire to get at least three hundred runs; 100% scoring, if all 50 overs are delivered.  Six runs per over in 50-overs cricket is not that difficult to achieve.

WI team think-tank must take massive credits.  Dwayne Bravo, opening the batting, allowed good flexibility, with Darren Sammy, that other all-rounder, and left-arm spinner Suilleiman Benn able to be included and contributing considerably.  That could be a good formula going to ICC World Cup 2015 too!

With no Chris Gayle present, it also prevented Leon Johnson from getting into this cauldron too quickly.

India looked somewhat tired after their tremendous year of Tests and ODI’s, and with players involved in the recent Champions League 2014.  Truth be told, India has hardly had a really good rest recently.

It must be very difficult to have returned home from that great tour to the UK, to go straight into Champions League 2014, followed immediately by this tour by WI.

But this type of continuous cricket is not new.  For World Series Cricket (Kerry Packer Series) 1978, West Indies, Australia and World teams each played fourteen ODI’s in twenty one days.  Talk about tired!

Even with that wonderful 321-6 in ODI No. 1, WI’s Achilles Heel is still its batting, as was seen when they played Bangladesh recently.  Yes, WI won all games then, but they did wobble some against the Tigers.

In ODI No. 1 in Grenada, WI were 34-5 before Kieron Pollard blazed 89 in seventy deliveries to pull WI out of the fire.  Both Ramdin and Darren Bravo scored centuries afterwards, in ODI No. 3, but the “Man of the Series” v Bangladesh was Sunil Narine, who, for all published reasons, will take no part here.

Benn, though, could be a great blessing in disguise.  He has bowled tremendously well over the last year and his aggression, forcefulness and frugality could come in quite handily in those big arenas in India.

Andre Russell is still trying way too hard.  He needs to settle down to understanding his roll.  Either he is a stingy bowler, or a “blaster”, trying to shock batsmen out.  Seldom can most fast bowlers be both.

Russell, now, is neither.  While he is favored by selectors, he still needs to continue his improvement.

So, with that first win, WI are on their way.  All they need to do is remain angry, and win again!  Enjoy!

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of GrenadaSports.

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