The Report by Siddarth Ravindran
November 27, 2013.
With a 9am start on a hazy winter morning, the talk at the toss was about how the first hour would be a challenge for the batsmen. West Indies negotiated that phase well losing only one wicket, and half-centuries from Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels took them to a strong 164 for 2 when the batting Powerplay was taken. Perfectly placed then for the power-hitters to come; they nearly squandered that advantage by losing three quick wickets, but Darren Sammy and Darren Bravo provided the late flourish to lift them to a competitive 263.
India’s new-ball bowlers posed plenty of questions for West Indies’ openers, who were regularly beaten by the movement and both Johnson Charles and Powell had edges dropping short of slip. Even as late as the 12th over, India had three slips in place. Charles went early as Bhuvneshwar Kumar again showed his ability to get the ball to jag both ways, producing a big indipper to bowl Charles immediately after bowling an outswinger.
Powell had grabbed the chance offered by Chris Gayle’s absence with a half-century in Visakhapatnam, and built on that with another solid score. He was a bit loose outside off early on but settled in as the innings progressed, showing off his driving skills, with a square drive off Mohit Sharma in the sixth over a highlight. He had reached 70 by the 30th over, but miscued a sweep off R Ashwin – the fifth time in a row that the opener has gone past 40 without reaching triple figures.
His 117-run partnership with Samuels had set West Indies up for a strong total. Samuels was nervy early on, extremely reluctant to get on the front foot against the fast bowlers, and played and missed regularly. It has been a poor tour for him so far, and he had a chance to correct things with a defining performance in the decider.
After his initial struggles, he was more at ease against the spinners, stepping out to launch Ashwin onto the temporary roof in the stands beyond long-on. He was reprieved on 60 when Virat Kohli put down a chance at first slip, but again Samuels couldn’t go on to a hundred, bowled by an offspinner from Ashwin.
That was in the first over of the batting Powerplay, and with Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo failing, West Indies had suddenly slipped to 196 for 5. However, Darren Bravo made his third consecutive half-century and Darren Sammy’s all-power game worked again this time as they threw the bat around to put on 67 in little over eight overs.
It was still not a formidable total, but at least it ensured India’s in-form batsmen have a challenge on their hands to win the series.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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