Short circuit singes India

Bridgetown, May 7 — At the Kensington Oval, a bevy of West Indian legends jostle for space. Acutely aware of their cricketing heritage, officials have named one stand after Worrell, Walcott & Weekes. Close at hand is the Hall & Griffith Stand, and square of the pitch is the Greenidge & Haynes Stand. But the pride of place in any cricket ground, the ends from which the bowlers operate, have been named after Garner and Marshall. Watching India’s batsmen attempt an unlikely chase of 184, it felt like Garner and Marshall had returned to torment the willow wielders. The pitch, which appeared far from dangerous when India’s bowlers operated in the first half, suddenly had deliveries flying through to the keeper as Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson sent down thunderbolt after thunderbolt. West Indian supporters, in the ground early for their afternoon match, were taken back to a time when quick bowling was the norm in this region. India’s batsmen, having feasted on featherbeds in the IPL, faced a thorough examination, and once again their ineptness against genuine pace and bounce was cruelly exposed. M Vijay, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina, all fell attempting to score off rising deliveries, and none managed to do more than spear the ball into the air. At 17 for 3, the writing was on the wall and defeat by 49 runs left India’s batsmen with dented pride and bruised egos. Nannes, however, showed that these were not one-trick ponies, nailing Yuvraj Singh with a yorker that brushed the pad on the way to the base of the off stump. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, attempting to make the most of leg-spinner Steven Smith’s bowling, heaved one straight to long on and the chase was as good as dead. Rohit Sharma, who replaced Piyush Chawla in a bid to strengthen the batting, ploughed a lone furrow, reaching an unbeaten 79, but with no other batsman in the top eight reaching double figures, even a superhuman effort from one man was never going to be enough. To his credit, Rohit weathered the storm and really cashed in once he got set. Disappointingly for him, the tail could not hang around long enough to allow him a chance to push for his century. When Dhoni put Australia in to bat earlier in the day, David Warner (72) and Shane Watson struck the ball so lethally and efficiently in a 104-run opening partnership that Australia were well on course for a 200-plus score. A total of 16 sixes, several of which landed on the road outside the ground, ensured that all bowlers save Harbhajan Singh had embarrassing returns. An eminently forgettable day in the office left India in a situation where they need to win both their remaining Super Eight matches to harbour hopes of going the distance in this tournament.

In another Group F match, Sri Lanka won the toss against the West Indies and elected to bat. Muttiah Muralitharan has recovered and joins the Sri Lanka squad. Jerome Taylor and Wavell Hinds return to the West Indian team.