Port of Spain, June 8: As India and the West Indies gear up for the second one-dayer of the former's ongoing tour, one can only hope for a more exciting encounter. The hosts' batting in the first match was drab and lacked intent to say the least. As the Indian bowlers began dominating from early on, the top-order caved in without much of a fight and an abysmal run-rate while the middle order crept into some kind of a shell. Even the latter order gave in meekly with four wickets falling in the space of 23 runs. The end result: a below-par score of 214/9 in 50 overs.
Windies opener Lendl Simmons may have had a fairly fruitful outing against Pakistan in the series preceding this one, but he and partner Kirk Edwards have hardly justified their ostensible role as an aggressive opening pair. They will almost certainly have to pull up their socks if the Windies are to wrest some impetus from where they can launch out towards a competitive total.
The Windies performance with the bat was almost as lacklustre as their attempt to defend the meagre score. Their move to go into the first ODI with two specialist leg-breaks may have partially paid off with three wickets coming off them at 3.8 runs per over. But there was very little extra variety with all the remaining four bowlers used being seamers. How much damage can be expected of them on a slow wicket which supports mainly spin?
Meanwhile for India too there is room for improvement. A leading news channel termed India's chase in the first match as "nearly pressing the self-destruct button". Indeed, with most of the top order flopping, one got the feeling that India was stricken with the same woes as the Windies. But then the Indian middle order demonstrated a point of distinction and came out tops in the encounter.
The Windies should derive encouragement from the fact that they are playing a largely second string Indian team which lacks the star-power that helped lift the World Cup earlier this year. If they apply themselves and crack the code of a deceptive off-spinner in Harbhajan Singh and learn quickly to tackle the guile of paceman Munaf Patel, they may be able to put on a better fight.