West Indies went into the second ODI against India at Delhi on a high having completely demolished them at Kochi. However, consistency is not the forte of the current West Indies squad. And, this frailty of theirs came to the fore again on Saturday as they crumbled to lose the second ODI from a position of absolute at strength. Incredibly, there was no pressure on them as they were chasing a below par total, and had a plethora of wickets in hand, with not too many runs to get, and that too at a reasonable pace. West Indies have only themselves to blame for faltering from a position of great strength.
Overconfidence could be one of the reasons West Indies fell to their knees from a highly invincible position. The visitors seemed to be in complete control during the second wicket-partnership between Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard. Both were striking boundaries at will. The Indian bowlers looked completely insipid until, out of nowhere, Pollard played a rash shot to give away his wicket to Amit Mishra. Yes, Pollard is at his best when he is aggressive, and he had stroked some muscular boundaries during his stay at the crease. But, this particular stroke was an irresponsible one, as he dragged one from outside the off stump on to his stumps.
Another big turning point in the match was the performance of Marlon Samuels. The centurion from the last game surprisingly looked completely out of touch. He was nowhere the player who took the Indian attack to the sword at Kochi. On the contrary, he even failed to rotate the strike. In fact, he played out two maidens off Mishra, and although West Indies' run rate was still under control, they had lost the momentum. Worse, Samuels gave his wicket away after consuming many deliveries, and not scoring too many runs. Samuels' struggles proved what a great leveller the game of cricket is.
In spite of the loss of Samuels and Pollard, West Indies still held the upper hand. All they had to do was bat sensibly, and this is where they again did not display a lot of common sense. Some of strokes they played towards the second half of the innings defied cricketing logic. One cannot be too harsh on Dwayne Smith since he played a splendid knock to put West Indies into a great position. But, the stroke he played to get out was an inexplicable one. The same can be said of irresponsible strokes by former skipper Darren Sammy and current captain Dwayne Bravo.
If they want to look at the positives in the game, it was definitely the bowling performance of Jerome Taylor. The Windies spearhead ran in hard and troubled the Indians with his pace. The manner in which he set up Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan's dismissal was excellent. Taylor, in form, is an exceptional bowler, and he proved the same at Delhi with some pacy deliveries, and was duly rewarded with the same. But, like India at Kochi, their batsmen fumbled. West Indies have given away the advantage they gained in the first ODI. They now must go back to the drawing board and start from scratch.
--By A Cricket Analyst