Kept calm, carried on
Mohammed Shami (3/35) was declared the Man of the Match on Friday. His scalps included West Indies openers, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith.
For those who came in late: At WACA, you don’t come in late. On Friday, Indian fans unaware of that old ‘pace jungle’ saying would have cursed themselves for missing the most heartening period of play. When Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav were bowling the stand-out opening spells of the tournament that has seen 15 ‘300-plus’ and three ‘400-plus’ scores, the grass banks were still green and unoccupied.
After dusk when the hill was occupied, and tri-coloured, there was less flag-waving and more nail-chewing. The late-comers, who weren’t around when Shami and Yadav reduced West Indies to 182, did get to see India limp past the finish line. But once there, everything was forgotten. Regardless of their time of arrival, they all went home satisfied. Fan and players, they all got what they wanted.
India’s four-wicket win over West Indies helped them maintain an all-win record in the Australian leg of the league phase. To count the positives from this game, you needed more than a hand. Here’s mentioning a few: India’s fourth straight win was achieved despite the relative failure of the top order and the lively track. R Ashwin strengthened his case as a genuine all-rounder, even triggering a thought of promoting him over Suresh Raina on WACA-kind of track. And, most importantly, India found MS Dhoni the finisher. Okay, he didn’t seal it with his trademark straight six.
Actually, it was a thick edge, which flew past the slip that gave India the winning runs. Slowly and surely, Dhoni was reaching there. By the time India return to Australia, after a couple of easy games, the skipper would be hitting Row Z again.
The tight chase in the low-scoring game was certainly creditable but, in the final analysis, it was the opening spell of Indian pacers that closed the game. The first nine overs decided the outcome of the game. Shami and Yadav were still in operation when West Indies were reduced to 35/3. With the Big Three back in the hut, a couple of things happened. Firstly, the Not-that-Big 8 that follow were too scared to launch a counter while the Indian pace unit enhanced its reputation.
Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels — the batting bullies with the capacity to fly off the blocks — were made to look insufficient and intimidated. Both Shami and Yadav bowled just short of good length, not once but every time they ran in to bowl. Their heavy balls either hit the wicket-keeper’s gloves way above his head or climbed up on bat. The batsmen tried to spoil the bowling rhythm of the pacer but they couldn’t succeed.
New-found discipline Dhoni would later explain the reason for India’s new found pace discipline and composure. “I think what the fast bowlers have done really well is now they understand the importance of hitting that length and not trying too many different things. They have started believing in that as a unit. As far as our bowling unit is concerned, I think they are bowling really will.”
Both the openers, Gayle and Smith, would fall to short ball. First Smith would underestimate the carry of a Shami effort ball outside the off-stump to edge the ball to Dhoni. Samuels would follow, run out after a mix-up with Gayle who seemed like getting out every other ball he played.
Actually, Gayle could have been out three times in his 27-ball short stay. Both Shami and Yadav dropped catches when the other was bowling. But the missed chances didn’t dent the new-found confidence of the pace unit.
The West Indian left-hander was getting desperate now. He jumped out of the crease to hit a ball but missed the line. The next time he stayed back, and connected. Gayle’s Russian roulette routine wouldn’t work. He would run out of luck.
Shami continued to run in hard and bang the ball short. He would get rewarded with Gayle’s last mishit of the day landing in Mohit Sharma’s hands. At that point the result of the game was clear.
But there would be hiccups as the Indian batsmen too would struggle against the short bowling. Virat Kohli, during his 33, was the batsman who was most comfortable on this tricky track. He was a treat to watch but, today, he was second to the brilliant show of pace bowling at the start of the day.
Source:: Indian Express