For some reason, the West Indies have just not arrived in India mentally although they have been physically present for a few weeks, and have even given Sachin Tendulkar a grand farewell. They lost the Tests in a rather unspectacular manner, but what was most disappointing was that they went down without showing any spine. Better was expected of them in the one-dayers, a format which was seen more suited to their style of play. But, the story did not change in the first ODI at Kochi, where India again had it very easy.
West Indies’ shabby performance would have encouraged India no end, and this is exactly why the hosts would be keen to seal the three- match series in the second one-dayer on Sunday at Visakhapatnam. Against a weak West Indies batting, India’s spin bowling will again be their strength. Ravindra Jadeja has been literally impossible to get away in most matches he has played at home. His left-arm spin not only stifles the opposition batsmen, but also forces them to make mistakes. India would be banking heavily on him to deliver with the ball, as they look to close out the series.
Ravichandran Ashwin had an excellent Test series as West Indies failed to read his variations. He did not need to do much in the opening game since the other spinners did the job, but being the lead spinner he will be keen to leave his stamp on the series. Winning the series for India with his spin, would be the perfect way for Ashwin to do the same. India got a great bonus at Kochi as Suresh Raina exploited the conditions as well as the Windies batsmen’s weaknesses to come up with a stellar bowling effort. Rookie Jaydev Unadkat’s performance would be the only cause of worry for India in the bowling department with Shami and Bhuvneshwar continuing to impress.
Ironically, it is in the batting department that they have a few worries, their stronger suit. Two men for whom the second ODI would be extremely important are Raina and Yuvraj Singh. The former did well with the ball, but his struggles with the bat have continued over a prolonged period of time. Raina just doesn’t look at ease at the crease. The story is rather similar with Yuvraj. Ever since his match-winning innings in the T20 against Australia, he has been worked over by bowlers time and again.
It is too early to say this, but Shikhar Dhawan must be careful of his form. He has had a few low scores in succession, and in international cricket you never know when form turns from good to bad. The rest of the batting order seems pretty solid. Considering their strengths and West Indies’ weaknesses, India would be disappointed if they don’t clinch the series 3-0. For that, they will first have to stamp their authority at Visakhapatnam.
--By A Cricket Analyst