Hoodwinked by Their Board, Vintage West Indies Rob Team India
Not one cricket expert would have backed West Indies to defeat India in the first ODI. With every inch of their back to a thorny wall, the visitors broke their shackles and went past hosts in Kochi with confident arrogance and simple passion for the sport.
Once upon a time, West Indies' players were feared and revered for their passion for cricket. On Wednesday, the team gave a glimpse of their glorious past as the tourists outplayed hosts India in all departments of the game to claim the first of five ODIs. That the team won by 124 runs was commendable. That they did so with their backs to the wall was absolutely sensational. (Match Report | Scorecard | Highlights)
When the day began, the big question was if the players would even come out for the match. A row between them and their own cricket union regarding payments threatened to humiliate West Indies cricket. Instead, the bravehearts of Caribbean cricket came, played their hearts out and showed that the fire still burns hot in Babylon. And while the documentary - Fire in Babylon - hailed the golden generation of West Indies cricket, the new generation showed that money can never be a hindrance in their romance with cricket.
While salary-related tensions peaked before the toss, the team quietly walked into the Nehru Stadium and got down to business. There was no Chris Gayle, no Sunil Narine. Even without the most destructive batsman in the world and a wily spinner, the team sported a determined look - one that was maintained through the course of the match. (Bravo Angry With WICB)
Asked to bat, Marlon Samuels led the batting with a mature yet attacking knock of 126*. That he came to bat with his side on 98/2Â and yet took his team to 321/6 - the highest ODI total ever seen by Kochi spectators, was like a message back home.
Not many were still backing West Indies to win. After all, the Indian batting at home is like an untamed storm. The cricketers from the conglomeration of island countries though were in no mood to run, duck and hide this time. Using pace and spin to perfection, the men in red kept pegging Indians back. While Shikhar Dhawan managed to keep India afloat for a while - he scored 68, the rest of the 'famed' batting line-up quickly imploded without a hint of a fight.
Wednesday's showing was a beautiful glimpse into what West Indies cricket was and what it can be, going forward. It was a stunning contrast to how the team crashed against India 'A' in the two practice matches. It was in fact, an ode to cricket and cricket's spirit - a toast that even the staunchest of Indian supporters would or should be grateful for.