“I was disappointed that we did not make 200 but the wicket was a difficult one to bat on. There were cracks on the wicket and the new ball was rising sharply from it at times. It was pleasing to see batsmen not giving their wickets away and trying to grinding it out,” said Chand.
After being asked to bat on a wicket that assisted fast bowlers, India’s top order were rattled by the West Indian quicks. It took a gritty 51 by wicketkeeper-batsman Smit Patel to take India to a modest total of 166 after 50 overs. Patel was well supported by batsman Vijay Zol, who made a fluent 23, but failed to go on.
Impressive: Sandeep Sharma. Pic/Getty Images
Defending a modest total of 166 was always going to be a tough task as West Indies manager, Courtney Walsh realised it. “The runs on the board so if the bowlers bowl well anything is possible” said the bowling legend during the lunch interval.
India’s Sandeep Sharma backed this up by starting with a superb opening spell. Sharma had figures of 2 for 9 in his first six overs including the key wicket of current West Indies opener Kraig Brathwaite bowled by a peach of a delivery.
However, India lacked the option of the third fast bowler and had to quickly revert to their spin strategy.
Even thought left arm spinner Harmeet Singh struck twice to have West Indies 75 for four, batsman Anthony Alleyne settled in nicely against the spinners. India coach Bharat Arun was asked if the third seamer could have made the difference. “Not really. Spin is our strength and even towards the end, the spinners looked threatening,” he said.
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