The West Indians in their first visit to Toronto struggled to maintain their Singapore form. Indian bowlers responded magnificently to their skipper's decision to field first in the opener of the three-match Series against the West Indies in the DMC Cricket Festival on Saturday. Sourav Ganguly won the toss and sent Brian Lara's team in to bat and returned after 46.2 overs having contained the rival for a paltry total of 163 runs.
Later, Ganguly himself was there to see his team through by eight wickets. The West Indies team management chose to experiment with two new faces in Chris Gayle and Adrain Griffith in the top order. Against an intelligent set of Indian bowlers the top order collapsed to 54 for 4 in 22.1 overs. Even a 64-run fifth wicket stand between two gritty men in Ricardo Powell (37 in 34 balls with four fours and two sixes) and Sherwin Campbell (62 in 95 balls) did not help the West Indies to recover to a rosy spot. The brilliance of the Indian attack and the smartness exhibited by the fielders took India to a comfortable position. Robin Singh (3 for 43), Chopra (2 for 17) Joshi (2 for 30) Mohanty (2 for 31) and Venkatesh Prasad (1 for 38) shared the spoils.
The bowlers bowled to a plan and the fielders did their job with admirable alacrity. The manner in which Venkatesh Prasad and Mohanty performed on this bouncy track suggested that the four-man pace attack of the West Indies might as well make a fight of it. Moreover, in the current Indian batting line-up only Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are the seasoned batsmen. But the West Indian fast bowlers, except Courtney Walsh one of the game's immortals, no other bowler tried to extract the best out of the track. They failed to adopt their famous 'line and length' approach and that naturally suited the Indians who were after all facing a reachable winning target.
Ganguly did not open the innings today. MSK Prasad and S.Ramesh gave a 54 run start thanks mainly to some bold but edgy boundary hits by MSK Prasad. Ramesh was subdued today and came out of his shell only when things looked rosy. Prasad (24 off 26 balls) fell to a straightforward catch taken by Griffith at point off debutant paceman Collymore. Then the great Walsh (got rid of Rahul Dravid with a beautiful outswinger that kissed Dravid's bat and landed into the gloves of wicket keeper Ridley Jacobs (59 for 2 in 15.5).