India's 1-0 triumph in the three-Test series in the Caribbean is a laudable achievement considering the side was without several key players.
The Indian team displayed the bench strength that is expected from the No. 1 team in Test cricket. It must, however, be taken into account that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side met a struggling team without its star batsman Chris Gayle, whose dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board continues.
On the flip side, India did not show the aggression and the desire of a top-ranked Test side when it abandoned the chase in the third Test in Dominica; India required 86 more runs off 90 deliveries with seven wickets remaining. Dhoni's men missed a gilt-edged opportunity to become the first Indian team to win two Tests in a series in the West Indies.
The failure of the Indian bowlers to make short work of the West Indian tail on a sluggish surface in the final Test will also raise concerns ahead of the important series in England.
A rejuvenated Ishant Sharma was the biggest gain for India. The lanky paceman bowled an immaculate off-stump line, seamed the ball both ways and used the short-pitched delivery effectively to scalp 22 batsmen in three Tests at a stunning average of 16.86.
Harbhajan Singh became only the fourth spinner in Tests to go past 400 Test wickets; the off-spinner achieved the milestone in his 96th match. However, he (11 wickets in the series at 25.36) is still searching for the flight and dip that made him a formidable bowler once.
The first Test was played on a surface of inconsistent bounce in Kingston (Jamaica) and the experienced Rahul Dravid's technique and innings-building skills came to the fore during his match-winning 112.
Another old soldier, V.V.S. Laxman, crossed the 8,000-run mark in Bridgetown — the elegant right-hander has 8,146 runs from 123 Tests at 47.36 — and added weight to the Indian middle-order.
For the West Indies, comeback paceman Fidel Edwards achieved steep lift and reverse swung the ball to finish with 19 wickets at 20. Shivnarine Chanderpaul — he became the most capped player for the West Indies with 133 Tests — displayed his famous powers of concentration during a match-saving, unbeaten 116 in the third Test.
Debutant Kirk Edwards's rousing 110 in the final Test and the left-handed Darren Bravo's flair signalled hope for the West Indies. Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, with his flight and turn, also has possibilities.
The challenge before the West Indies is to harness the talent into consistent performances.
Keywords: India's tour of West Indies