India vs. West Indies: Kensington Oval draw like a win for India
Captain MS Dhoni was the first to laud his team’s performance in the 2nd Test of the ongoing series inspite of the fact that they could not pull of a win. Prior to this Test match, the venue of Kensington Oval has not been a pleasant one for India. The pitch was definitely prepared to the greater good of Test cricket. Throughout the five days, we saw the ball swing around and scoring runs was not easy. A part of this was also due to the weather which was not too kind to the spectacle of this match. We could argue that had light condition remained healthy on the last day of the match, the match could have gone on to its deserving conclusion.
We saw some excellent swing bowling from Ravi Rampaul who kept the Indian batsman under pressure. Fidel Edwards has pace and he does his bit with that, but a lot more control and direction is needed. His slingy action does not help for sure but he must look towards Lasith Malinga for inspiration. On a pitch that was helpful, this was enough ammunition to unsettle some young Indian batsman. However, Abhinav Mukund stood out in the second innings with an impressive 48. The left-hander has some flaws in his technique but that is irrelevant at this stage in his career. The impressive part about him was that he got behind the line of the ball and applied himself on a difficult track. He has the requisites of a good opening batsman, he maybe one for the future.
On the other hand, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman displayed their usual grit exemplifying what batting in Test match cricket is all about. They both have their manner of going about things and such contrasting techniques. Dravid concentrates and gets himself in, spends as much time in the center as possible whereas Laxman is cautiously aggressive. VVS Laxman does not compromise on stroke-play in the worst of situations but he selects the right deliveries. His impeccable hand-eye coordination helps him play flowing cover drives and wristy hand-work to pull the spinners. He was the most comfortable in the Indian batting line-up against Devendra Bishoo.
India failed to put up a worthy score in the first innings but took control of the matter when it was most needed. However, the bowlers were consistently good. There were a few worries being expressed preceding the series about India’s bowling line-up but they have come good. Praveen Kumar’s swing is well complemented by Ishant Sharma’s pace and bounce. Abhimanyu Mithun works up a decent pace and relies on seam movement. Due to continuous showers, his spells were cut short and Praveen-Ishant got more bowling time. The young pacer from Karnataka has proved his worth in the domestic circuit. This exposure will surely keep him in good stead for the future.
Ishant Sharma was awarded the Man of the Match award for his outstanding ten wickets in the test match. He had been shaping up well in the last couple of months and there were ominous signs for the Windies in the first Test as well. He is a work-horse bowler more than a rhythm bowler it seems. He gets better with every over of his spell and longer spells suit him. He is a delight to watch when on song and especially when the wicket has some bounce to offer. He will be a key component of the Indian side in the upcoming series against England.
India will have to play really poor cricket in the next Test to lose the match and level the series. Darren Sammy has been trying desperately to make a team out of this squad but the WICB is not helping. The batting order is already under so much fire and they have now withdrawn Ramnaresh Sarwan from the squad for the 3rd match. Sarwan’s experience in the middle order could have been crucial to the stability of the side. On the other hand, there seems to be no possible way of truce with Chris Gayle. We can only hope that the West Indies put up a better fight in the next and last Test beginning July 6.