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No wall is invincible!
by Gulu Ezekiel
May 27, 2006
For those die-hard Indian fans willing to stay up till the wee hours of the night, there has been reward aplenty in the three last-over finishes in the Caribbean.

Of course it is all over for India after the fourth ODI at Port of Spain. For a team ranked third to lose to one ranked eighth is a huge disappointment. Rahul Dravid's post-match comments that the team had yet to get used to the conditions is really an indictment of modern touring schedules.

Michael Holding has commented that the Indians could well have taken their opponents lightly. This is possible on a sub-conscious level though of course Dravid will vehemently deny such a suggestion.

Considering the appalling record of the West Indies over the last five years or so, apart from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, any other international side would definitely fancy their chances.

Both the teams will have to rapidly switch off from ODI mode and switch onto Test mode. With so little time in between, —barely a week—, this will not be easy. In addition Dravid’'s boys will also have to reconcile themselves to the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. How big a loss will that be for the side? Difficult to say. Remember, he has just one century from 10 Test matches in the Caribbean. On the other hand, his mere presence in the side gives it a boost before any series.

In fact, Tendulkar’'s bad patch —allied to his run of injuries---could well be first traced back to the 2002 series in the West Indies. India lost 2-1 a series they should have clinched comfortably and the master batsman scored just one century in the five Test matches.

The lone bright spot since then has been the 2003 World Cup in South Africa where he emerged as the top scorer despite playing with a badly injured finger.

In the Test arena though, the last four years have seen him being eclipsed by Rahul Dravid in the national side and on the world stage, losing something of his aura of invincibility which he first built around himself in the mid-1990s.

Having taken the correct decision to miss the Test series, it now appears likely Tendulkar will conserve himself carefully in the run up to the World Cup in the Caribbean next March, which will almost certainly be his last.

In 1997 West Indies were also in a weakened state. But they still had a strong pace attack. That was not the case in 2002 and right now they are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Back in 1971 under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar, the West Indians were in transition with the retirement of that famous pace duo of Wesley Hall and Charlie Griffith.

With the bowling lacking teeth, the Indians beat their formidable rivals for the first time and now 35 years later, we may never get such an opportunity again to repeat history.

Even though no Test match is being staged this time at their favourite Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Dravid has it in him to emulate Wadekar’'s famous feat. Indian fans demand nothing less.

 
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