Port of Spain, June 7: West Indies captain Darren Sammy may have been confident that his batsman would be able to tackle Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh well in the first ODI. But following their 4 wicket defeat in the encounter, the skipper was forced to eat his own words. That's because Bhajji turned out to be the thorn in the side of the Windies, pegging back three crucial wickets for just 32 runs off his 10 overs.
Harbhajan was in his element during the match, bowling a deceptive line outside the off-stump and varying his pace prodigiously. He clearly exposed the vulnerability of the Windies batsman to off-spin, a woe that they demonstrated all too clearly in last month's home series against Pakistan.
In Monday's match, Bhajji initiated his destructive trend when he tempted opener Kirk Edwards into an ambitious pull-whip which the batsman ended up top-edging to Virat Kohli at slip.
Harbhajan then caused severe problems for the Windies' middle order when he lured an aggressive Dwayne Bravo into an extravagant shot to have him stumped. The wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh, became Bhajji third victim, getting trapped plumb in front for 16.
It's not surprising the Windies struggled against Bhajji's spin: their current team doesn't have an off-break to practice against! Their two spinners - Anthony Martin and Devendra Bishoo - are both leg-breaks, with their premier specialist off-spinner Suleiman Benn not finding a place in the squad. One would think that in order to crack the code of a proficient off-spinner, they would induct at least one such in their side.
The Windies will now have to wise up to Bhajji's tweakings and not take him for granted if they are to worm their way back into the series. Right now India is leading the five-match engagement 1-nil and looking good for a sweep...