PORT OF SPAIN: India captain Virat Kohli made light of losing Test cricket’s top ranking to arch-rivals Pakistan in the aftermath of the abandoned fourth and final match of the series against the West Indies in Trinidad on Monday.
With a waterlogged outfield limiting play to just 22 overs before lunch on the first day, when the West Indies reached 62 for two, the tourists missed out on the opportunity to complete a 3-0 series triumph and solidify their position as the number-one team in the traditional format of the game.
“I said at the time that getting to number one was always a short-term incentive,” said Kohli at the post-match ceremony in bright sunshine.
“Other teams have played 10-15 more Tests than us so it will keep switching. We can judge ourselves better at the end of our home season.”
India are scheduled to play 13 Tests at home over the next six months.
West Indies captain Jason Holder acknowledged that his team was outplayed throughout much of the series, but insisted there were gradual improvements in the team’s overall performance.
“We looked set to compete at certain stages of the series, but just couldn’t close out at crucial stages,” he said.
“We faltered a bit in this series. Going forward we need to seize those moments.”
The West Indies’ next Test assignment is against top-ranked Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, beginning in September, on a tour that also involves three ODIs and three T20Is.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s status as a top-class all-rounder was enhanced by his performances in the series, as his two centuries with the bat and two five-wicket hauls with the ball saw him named ‘Man of the Series’.
“When we started this series we wanted to come here and play aggressive cricket,” said Ashwin.
“We wanted to play five bowlers in all the games. That’s something we wanted to try out.”
India maintained that tactic until the final match at the Queen’s Park Oval, opting to omit left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja in preference for batsman Chesteshwar Pujara.
In the end though, the deplorable playing conditions and the local authorities’ unpreparedness in coping with the challenges caused by the rains of the first afternoon rendered the tactical alterations meaningless.
West Indies Cricket Board chief executive Michael Muirhead expressed his organisation’s surprise with the state of the outfield and is awaiting an explanation from the officials of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club over the circumstances that meant there was no play over the last four days of the match despite almost continuous sunshine.
“We have been to this ground so many times and for every ground we ensure that they are prepared,” he insisted to local media on Monday.
“We certainly ensure they are equipped with the necessary tools.”
Despite Muirhead’s assurances, there was no ‘Super Sopper’ available, a piece of equipment now considered standard for major international venues to assist in speedy operations after rain interruptions.
West Indies legend Vivian Richards has called for an enquiry into the fiasco, describing the situation as “unacceptable.”
However, experts familiar with the weather pattern in Trinidad at this time of year have noted that with August being one of the rainiest months of the year, it was always a risky time to host a Test match.
Since being established as one of the principal venues for international cricket in the Caribbean in 1930, no Test match or other senior international fixture had ever been scheduled at the ground after the month of June until this series.
West Indies now holds the unenviable record for the three shortest Test matches affected by pitch and ground conditions.
Previous to this embarrassment, two matches against England suffered from similarly bizarre experiences.
In 1998, the first Test of the series at Sabina Park in Jamaica lasted less than an hour before the umpires determined that the pitch was too dangerous for the English batsmen to cope with genuine fast bowling.
Then in 2009, a match in Antigua was called off with less than two overs bowled due to the excessively sandy outfield which made it virtually impossible for the bowlers and fielders to move without risking serious injury.