India had everything going for them, they were playing at home and playing their favourite format of the game. However, during their first game, they almost looked like they were back abroad playing Test match cricket. The ODI series against West Indies should have been almost an easy win for India. Though West Indies are one of the most explosive limited-overs team, they were lacking in practice, low on morale, missing their star spinner and one of their most dangerous batsmen. They were also going up against a team who had just won an ODI series abroad.
A comprehensive 124 run win in the first ODI by WI was more than impressive considering their circumstances. They put on a fantastic all-round performance from start to finish. WI started well with Dwayne Smith scoring 46, but Marlon Samuels stole the show with his 126 not-out. With the help of Dinesh Ramdin, WI put on a huge total of 321. One that had never been chased down in Kochi before.
Though WI reached a formidable total, it wasn’t due to poor death bowling from India for once. India bowled very tightly during the final overs, something which they have always had trouble with. However most of the damage had already been done during the middle overs. Nevertheless, given the conditions and India’s reputation, there was still hope for the Indians. With Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina finding form in England during the ODIs, and MS Dhoni back in his element it was sure to be a close match.
India began strong with Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan settling well and playing some beautiful shots. A huge miscommunication during the ninth over led to both batsmen standing in the same crease and Rahane being run out leaving India 49-1. Apart from Dhawan’s 68 it was a very poor batting show from India from then on. Virat Kohli got out in an all too familiar way and no one else except the openers and Ravindra Jadeja scored above 20. India were all out for 197. It appeared that India had fixed one problem in their death bowling but found new problems in their batting.
The second ODI began in shambles again for India with Dhawan getting out for one. They recovered slowly with Rahane and Ambati Rayudu building a partnership but neither could last at the crease and India were left 74-3. Kohli and Raina added 105 for the fourth wicket and Dhoni scored a 50 to bring India to 263.
Though 263 was a decent total, India appeared to be on their way to a second loss as WI cruised to 162-2 in 35 overs. During the 36th over, something changed. Once Dwayne Smith was dismissed, the WI lineup collapsed with the next seven wickets falling for a mere 45 runs.
Even though India won, it was not convincing. The WI batsmen only required six an over when the third wicket fell and considering their lineup, it was their game to lose. India will need to pull their socks up in the eight ODIs leading up to the World Cup if they hope to defend their title as champions.