India eased itself to a comfortable victory on Wednesday at the Kensington Oval (Barbados) in the first of the remainder three One-day Internationals, thereby taking a crucial early lead. Chasing 187, India cantered home to a seven-wicket victory to go one up in the truncated 5-match One-day series. Dinesh Mongia and Tinu Yohannan played a key role in India's triumph. It must have been refreshing for the Indian contingent to have worked itself to a one-sided verdict, after an embarrassing series loss to the West Indies when everybody had predicted a series win against a below par hosts. With the World Cup not too far away, the Indian think tank was looking to conduct various experiments, which included erecting Dravid behind the stumps.
It seems to have done no harm in the first outing though, as Dravid did his reputation no harm effecting a stumping and holding on to a catch. India did well to bowl out the West Indies for 186 after having invited its opponents to take first strike. Having decided to take advantage of some moisture that lay in the wicket early on, Tinu Yohannan served India well maintaining an impressive line and length, which paid dividends as he picked up both the openers - who departed in an attempt to up the tempo. However, India put the match in its favour later on when it engineered a middle order collapse during which period West Indies collapsed from a sound 140 for three to 186 all out.
Skipper Hooper was the only one who stood firm amidst the ruin with a brilliant 76 not out off 75 balls. Ramnaresh Sarwan was the only other West Indian to make a contribution. He once again got a start but failed to kick on, making 44 off 69 deliveries. Chandrapaul was run out to an unfortunate run out, which proved decisive as it triggered the collapse. For India Agarkar bowled well at the death cleaning up the tail with his reverse swing. Sehwag also contributed in the middle, picking up a couple of valuable scalps. Yohannan picked up 3 for 33 while Agarkar finished up with 3 for 36.
Having dismissed West Indies cheaply, an Indian victory was never in doubt - unless India put up a reckless show. India experimenting various options in this series, opted to withhold Tendulkar back in order to lend solidity to the middle order. India opened with Ganguly and Sehwag and with a not so daunting task ahead of them the Indian batsmen were unhurried in their stroke play, setting their eye in for a good knock in the middle. However, Sehwag perished to his own undoing when he tried an ambitious shot off Mervyn Dillon. He could have made use of this opportunity to get himself a much- needed outing but it was not to be. He made 21 off 36 balls.
Ganguly and Mongia then put on 68 runs before Ganguly too gifted his wicket away. He, however, compiled a well-made 41 before aggression got the better of him. With 78 runs more required Tendulkar and Mongia took India within sight of a comprehensive victory before Mongia departed going for a big one. Although Mongia displayed a touch of rust he did extremely well to notch up 74 well struck runs, to further enhance his rising stature. Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 34 and Dravid on 9. For the West Indies the bowling wore a thin look with only three specialist bowlers in the firing squad. If West Indies is to make a serious impact on the remainder of the series it better get the balance right in its bowling department.