Roseau, July 9: Critics, detractors and pundits alike had come down heavily on India for being unable to rustle up innings' totals of 300-plus in the ongoing tour of the Caribbean. But now Dhoni's men have issued a sharp retort with a fine display of collective batsmanship. It is this resolve that has taken them past that elusive total. And the reason is all too clear: the Indian line-up has at long last batted as a unit.
After all, four of the top six batsman have notched up half-centuries in the third and final Test, something that the team has not come close to accomplishing since they descended in the Caribbean a few weeks ago. With the openers caving in meekly, the onus almost inevitably fell on the shoulders of the middle-order and as if that didn't symbolise poor enough strategising, only one or two batsman were able to weather the storm and push on.
If it was Rahul Dravid who saved the day for India in the first Test, it was VVS Laxman who bailed the side out of a precarious situation in the second. The fact that the visitors had to count on the experience and fortitude of their stalwarts doesn't augur well for a team which could soon see a transition in it's composition with the senior colleagues close to bidding adieu to Test cricket.
New-comer Abhivan Mukund may have been disappointed to get out on 62, when he seemed set to play a longer innings. But his knock helped give his side the impetus to carry the innings forward, despite his fellow-opener Murali Vijay and Dravid falling cheaply. With his power and grace he helped lift the pressure on the middle order, making it easier for Laxman and Raina to find a grove and also reach fifties. Even Virat Kohli found it less cumbersome to quell his Test demons and put on 30.
Now with the captain M S Dhoni batting on 65 and Harbhajan Singh not out on 12, India is in a robust position to grab an overwhelming first innings' lead. But they had best remain cautious of this treacherous wicket which seems to be getting progressively conducive for spin-bowling.