Following the disastrous loss at Kochi, India needed to show massive improvements to level the series at Delhi. Their did end up winning the game, although their performance wasn't totally convincing. A victory clearly means they did show steady improvements in the batting as well as in the bowling department, and they should now look to build on the gains and keep West Indies down for the rest of the series. India, after all, are the world champions, and with the World Cup coming up, they need to get into the habit of playing like one.
Unlike mostly is the case at home, on this occasion, the bowling won the match for India. After putting up up a below par score in spite of having wickets in hand, India were struggling at one stage to control the West Indian onslaught. However, Amit Mishra, who had struggled in the earlier game, and was looking out of form in Delhi as well, made the crucial breakthrough that turned the game around in the India's favour. The maiden overs he bowled after getting the wicket put a lot of pressure on West Indies, and the Indians never allowed them to recover from that point.
Mohammad Shami's bowling was also a revelation in the game. He had claimed four wickets in the first ODI as well, but on that occasion, most wickets came his way by luck. It was at Delhi that he really made a serious impression. Not only did he give India the early breakthrough, but came back to cripple the middle-order as well. He also maintained a very good line and length, always keeping the opponents under check. It was a complete bowling performance from India as left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja also chipped in. His two-wickets in a over came with some exceptional spin bowling.
India did better with bat as well at Delhi. The most significant aspect of the performance was the half-century by the struggling Virat Kohli. Paying heed to Sunil Gavaskar's advice, India sent in Kohli at number four. The move definitely worked in the team's favour as Kohli came up with a crucial knock. Expectedly, he was not at his fluent best, but playing at home definitely worked to his advantage as he successfully turned the strike around. India would be pleased to see him back among the runs. The only disappointing aspect was that Kohli couldn't carry on after crossing the half-century mark.
There were more positives for India in the batting department. After a duck in the previous game, Suresh Raina returned to form with another half-century. Skipper MS Dhoni also chipped in with a half-century to help India recover from setbacks. However, India should be disappointed that they did not get a bigger score as most of their batsmen got out after getting starts. Ambati Rayudu is another case in point. If not for their bowlers, India would have struggled to win at Delhi as well. Something for Team India to ponder upon.
--By A Cricket Analyst