Windies slip to fresh low in India By N.Ananthanarayanan
Guyana Chronicle
October 22, 2002

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NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) - When West Indies began their tour of India early this month, they were seen as half a side without leading batsman Brian Lara.

After humiliating defeats in the first two Tests of the three-match series, captain Carl Hooper has slammed them as no team at all.

``We are not playing cricket at all,'' a dejected Hooper said after the eight-wicket rout in the second Madras Test on Sunday with nearly a day and a half to spare.

That was a week after their first-ever innings defeat against India in the opening Bombay Test with as much time left.

The latest failure for the side, which dominated world cricket in the 1980s, has shocked Indian fans used to the heroics of Gary Sobers, Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards.

Former players have said this is the worst West Indies side ever while some fans have gone to the extent of comparing their performance with Bangladesh, who routinely suffer big losses since making their Test debut two years ago.

Hooper says batting has been the main problem for West Indies in the last few seasons, particularly overseas.

They managed to cross 200 only once in their four innings in India to dash chief selector Richards' prediction that young batsmen like Ramnaresh Sarwan would make up for Lara's absence.

The 35-year-old Hooper, averaging around 50 since ending a sabbatical to return to lead the side last year, has failed to touch 50 this series while fellow-Guyanese Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sarwan have managed just one each.

West Indies batsmen have shown poor technique facing quality spin on slow tracks of uneven bounce, where off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has picked 15 and leggie Anil Kumble 13 wickets so far.

The visiting team's woes have been compounded by poor catching with about a dozen chances floored in two Tests.

The key beneficiary has been new batting sensation Virender Sehwag, who almost doubled his score to 147 after a reprieve in Bombay and was dropped twice during his rapid 61 in Madras.

West Indies have now lost nine of their last 10 Test series abroad since a 3-2 reverse in Australia in 1996-97. Their only win in the period was last year's 1-0 effort in Zimbabwe.

Despite their poor overseas record the West Indies had a lot at stake when they came to India, who had only won two series against them in 17 clashes spanning 54 years.

India's only previous home win had been a narrow 1-0 success in five matches against Alvin Kallicharran's side of 1978-79, hit by desertions to Kerry Packer's World Series.

Unless there is a dramatic improvement, West Indies now look set for their third straight rout in the sub-continent.

They were blanked 2-0 by Pakistan in neutral Sharjah and lost 3-0 in Sri Lanka last year, despite's Lara's 688 runs at 114.66.

Hooper looked resigned for an Indian whitewash when he said the current side was their best available and scope for changes was minimal for the third Calcutta Test from October 30.