New Delhi: For all the talk of personal milestones, cricket at the Feroze Shah Kotla showed that the sport truly is played by two teams. It mattered little that MS Dhoni became India's best wicketkeeper, that India is far superior in terms of ranking and that Sachin missed his 100th ton, there was another team at the opposite end. The 11 players for the West Indies showed Test cricket is about fighting, almost as much as it is about the result.
In a sport that many think favours the mighty, West Indies showed good resilience. For all who may regard India's first innings debacle as a consequence of a challenging Kotla pitch, it was also about a spirited side bowling with absolutely nothing to lose.
The five-wicket defeat was in stark contrast to the brilliant wins just weeks before against Bangladesh. Skipper Darren Sammy though, would not have caressed together lofty dreams of conquering the Indian frontier at the very beginning. This especially after legends of the sport in the past have stressed on several occasions, that playing India in India is never a cakewalk.
So while many would like to highlight the achievements of the Indian team and most would love to crunch numbers reflecting that MS Dhoni's side is back on the path that leads to the numero uno status in Tests, West Indies go about their business with calm tranquility. (Yes, calm and tranquil may mean the same, but the essence and impact is of importance to this writer).
Leaving talks of the pitch and the chilly Delhi conditions to the experts, a look at India's 1st innings scorecard reflects, at least to this writer, how well the bowlers combined for whatever their experience, skill and figures may have been. Every bowler had at least one wicket to his name.
In contrast, Pragyan Ojha took six wickets in the first innings, followed by Ashwin's six in the second. Not for once is it being suggested here that India failed to play as a team. Going by numbers alone, the scorecard seems to reflect that West Indies had every player striving to make an impact, in that particular session of play.
The same perhaps, cannot be said about the batting. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (118) and Kraigg Brathwaite (63) shone in the first innings where the likes of Powell (14), Edwards (15) and Bravo (12) could not. Then came the second innings where the entire team folded on 180. Where did the team-effort go, the critical reader may ask. Then again, this was never about the perfect team that epitomised world-class cricket. It was always about the 2011 West Indies team, a team many brush aside with casual arrogance.
While this team, though, may still be a far-flung reflection of it's glorious past, West Indies at the Kotla showed that critics, numbers and statistics fade into oblivion as long as a fight is fought and a war remains to be waged. Next frontier: Eden Gardens!