Kingston, June 21: It's the same old story playing out again - another Test tour abroad commences for India and another Indian batting collapse occurs on the first day. Granted, the visiting team does not currently possess the prowess, fortitude and experience that a Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar or Gautam Gambhir would have brought to the table.
But even so, the largely new Indian line-up should have demonstrated a little more guts and gumption in taking on a not-so-hot West Indian attack. If it had not been for the resolve of Suresh Raina, who scored 82 and Harbhajan Singh who blasted 70, India would have been reduced to a first innings' total of less than 100. After all, the remainder of the batsman, including veteran VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, collectively put on just 85 runs.
India's deficiencies against the short ball are too well documented on its overseas trips. In the first test against the hosts South Africa in Dec last year, India were shot out for a meagre 136 with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel ripping through the order and garnering 8 wickets between them. But that destructive duo constitutes the world's best new-ball pair at present. Comparatively, the Windies opening paceman in Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul are hardly of a similar stature and yet they bowled bountiful spells.
India's rot began early with Murali Vijay being lured into an impetuous uppish drive off Rampaul and getting snapped up by Devendra Bishoo at backward of point. Just a few overs later, debutant opener Abhinav Mukund played down the wrong line to get a fatal inside edge which pegged back his leg stump... and both the openers were back in the pavilion. At that juncture, one would have expected VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid to dig in their heels and put the house in order.
But that was not to be, with Laxman getting caught at slip playing an irresponsibly loose shot outside off and debutant Virat Kohli departing quickly afterward, due to a similar shot. Dravid should have taken on the mantle of stabiliser at that point, but he began to get aggressive and was looking to forcefully drive every ball, which led to his downfall. In the space of two overs, Windies' leg-break Devendra Bishoo, sent him as well as M S Dhoni back as India crumbled to 85/6. Further testimony to India's shoddy performance was that though they are good players of spin, they caved into just that.
India would be inclined to argue that the poor quality of the practice pitches meted out to them is behind their poor showing in the Test. But now one can only hope that India will pick up their game and bowl better than they batted. Fans can not expect too much from the currently lacklustre Ishant Sharma and a one-day specialist in Praveen Kumar. So it will be upto the spin twins - Bhajji and Amir Mishra - to compensate and give supporters something to cheer about.