India-WI 2nd ODI: Prasidh Krishna to the rescue as host of seal series

The game changed after Prasidh Krishna entered the attack in the round of 16. Until then, the West Indies hoped.

India were defending a modest 237 and early wickets were needed. But Shai Hope and Brandon King, the two Caribbean openers, were getting into the rhythm and upping the tempo, when skipper Rohit Sharma made a decisive change in bowling.

Prasidh made a name for himself in T20 cricket, playing for Kolkata Knight Riders. But he has “red ball bowler” written all over him, with an attack line and length, and an ability to move the ball.

The Motera pitch for the second ODI was a bit spicy, providing good rebound and movement off the deck. Alzarri Joseph has cast a brilliant spell with the new ball for tourists. Prasidh bettered it in India’s 44-point win. The hosts annexed the three-game series after West Indies were knocked out for 193.

Sharma had brought him in as a wicket-taking option and it was imperative for the setter to play to his strengths, sticking to the classic red ball principles of line and length. Prasidh struck immediately, hitting a hard outside length and managing to extract an extra rebound. King, attempting a wide slash, failed to tame the rebound.

Darren Bravo is the elder in the Caribbean squad and Prasidh was convinced he induced a southpaw advantage in Rishabh Pant. Referee Nitin Menon denied the appeal, but Sharma decided to go upstairs. Ultra Edge picked up a spike and it was five out of five for India captain over two games, DRS. No wonder Sunil Gavaskar on air started calling it “Definitely Rohit System”.

This West Indies batting formation is fragile under pressure. So when Prasidh withdrew West Indies alternate captain Nicholas Pooran – Kieron Pollard was absent due to a concern – India was booming. It was another back ball from a length that swerved away, squaring off the southpaw with a touch and taking the outside edge into Sharma’s path on the first slip. Standing a bit wider in this position was a smart move on the part of the skipper. His tactical acumen came to the fore, as Yuzvendra Chahal fired Hope.

Googlies had served the leg-spinner well in the first ODI and after the game Chahal confirmed that he had thrown a lot at Sharma’s insistence. On Wednesday, the captain’s briefing at the leggie was ostensibly to loop leg breaks outside the stump, taking the ball away from right-handers. Hope, moving at a snail’s pace, was beginning to fidget. He picked the wrong delivery to hit against the turn, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Sharma had kept Suryakumar Yadav a bit wider in the long run. It was excellent cricket all around; good bowling, a nice catch and a top captain. That’s what India missed in their 0-3 ODI series defeat in South Africa, with Virat Kohli out and Sharma out with a hamstring injury.

Promising future

Coming back to Prasidh, his emergence is good news for Indian cricket at a time when the team was looking for a replacement for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. After the South Africa tour, head coach Rahul Dravid had spoken about India’s inability to take wickets in the middle. Prasidh could offer a solution. After three wickets in Cape Town and a couple in the first ODI here, the 25-year-old came back with 4/12 in nine overs of this game. He and Mohammed Siraj, along with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, will make India’s attacking pace meatier in all formats. As for Prasidh’s immediate future, a man of the match performance just two days before the Indian Premier League mega auction was timely.

As for Sharma’s captain, he hardly made a mistake except for a few stray balls due to on-field infractions. Every bowling change worked.

He brought Shardul Thakur back and the middle pace bounced off Jason Holder. Rohit turned to Thakur again, when Akeal Hosein was doing a mini scare, and the bowler got rid of him with another bouncer. Siraj removing Fabian Allen came on the heels of another successful bowling switch. Before that, when Sharma introduced Deepak Hooda, the off-spinner won his first international wicket by dismissing a well-placed Shamarh Brooks.

Batting, however, remains a concern for India and the course correction lies mainly in Kohli’s return to form. For the past 10 years, Kohli and Sharma have been the backbone of the team’s best hitter in white ball cricket. Now they don’t score points in tandem. This hurt India in the T20 World Cup. Kohli not getting big scores was also a reason for the team’s loss in ODI series in South Africa.

On Wednesday, Sharma (5) took part in a Kemar Roach delivery that started from a length outside the stump. Kohli (18) went for cover for a delivery from Odean Smith, just as the ball swerved away from the seam after throwing and kissed the outside edge. It’s been almost two and a half years since the former captain scored an international cent. Without big scores from him and Sharma, the team’s stick loses its luster.

A 91-run fourth-wicket partnership between KL Rahul and Yadav gave India’s total some respectability. Rahul was lucky to get a reprieve on four before falling prey to a confusion on 49. Yadav scored 64 but was yet to convert half a century.

As Rahul departed, TV cameras captured India’s U-19 World Cup-winning side resplendent in their national team blazers and watching the seniors sit alongside BCCI secretary Jay Shah and of Treasurer Arun Dhumal. There in the middle, Washington Sundar, a U-19 graduate, played a glorious straight drive from Roach, further attesting to a flawless progression to the next level.

Comments are closed.