Cricket in USA : India v West Indies : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, arguably one of the finest finishers in limited overs cricket in the modern era, failed to execute his plan when faced with scoring two runs to win off the last ball in the first Twenty20 match on American soil.
Trinidad and Tobago all-rounder Dwayne Bravo clearly had a different set of ideas and stunningly bowled the last over to leave the Indian camp devastated. His crafty use of the slower delivery did baffle Dhoni and K.L.Rahul, who once again showed that he was the batsman for the future.
Rahul, with a terrific century to his credit, and Dhoni may consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken India past the winning line. But credit to West Indies too. Reigning Champions in this format, this young West Indies team performed quite well under pressure with Carlos Braithwaite as their skipper.
Dhoni praised the facilities at the Central Broward Cricket Stadium and considering that India essentially made history by playing in the United States of America for the very first time, it was equally enjoyed by the players and fans. A packed crowd of 15,000 fans had converged from all over the country to enjoy the two-match series organized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Ticket sales for this series was brisk and the sold-out crowd certainly enjoyed the two matches, particularly the first Twenty20 encounter.
India did very well in the second match with a strong comeback in the bowling department. Unfortunately, the second Twenty20 match played on Sunday, August 28th 2016, was mired with some “technical” controversy. There was a 40-minute delay at the start of the match and a 20-minute shower later in the match halted India’s chase of 143.
Amit Mishra took a wicket of the very first delivery he bowled in this match and ended up with 3-24, supported ably by R. Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah.
At the press conference following the rain-related wash out event, Dhoni praised his bowling unit. “There was a difference of nearly 100 runs given by our bowling unit between these two matches”, said Dhoni. He also expressed his satisfaction towards the facility at Central Broward Cricket ground. During his interaction with the media, he was looking forward to an ongoing cricket event between different nations in the US.
Overall, the satisfying factor was quite high from BCCI’s perspective. Mr. Anurag Thakur, President of BCCI, whene speaking to HiINDIA, praised the facility in Florida and looked at the potential for the ongoing series between India and West Indies becoming a regular feature.
The weather in Florida can be a sticky issue and considering that Lauderhill in Florida is the only venue that is ICC certified at the moment, BCCI may not have a plethora of options in terms of venue selection. If the BCCI decides to make this a regular annual event, then, more venues across the USA might become a strong possibility.
Rain had been a major factor in this entire tour of the West Indies and USA. At the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, due to lack of super soppers and incessant rains, the fourth Test match ended up in a draw with just a few hours of play. This propelled Pakistan to the Number 1 ranking in Test cricket and India was nudged down to number two. Strange that a draw in a cricket event impacts your rankings.
India will have plenty of opportunities to regain that top spot with over a dozen Test matches planned in the next several months at home. Historically, India has done well in Test matches at home, although, the touring nations of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa may come better prepared this time.
But, for now, India and BCCI passed the litmus test of this inaugural Twenty20 cricket “experiment” and in my opinion it was truly a home run