Windies young brigade turn the forecasts upside down
By N.Ananthanarayanan
Guyana Chronicle
November 26, 2002

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NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) - West Indies arrived for a tough India tour in early October amid predictions of a total rout for a struggling side, weakened by the absence through illness of main batsman Brian Lara.

But Lara's young team-mates Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels turned the forecasts upside down with classy efforts to help West Indies to a superb one-day series victory.

Gayle laid into the Indian bowlers, lashing three hundreds and a fifty to amass 455 runs and win the player-of-the-series award.

The 21-year-old Samuels capped his display of talent with a hurricane 108 not out that spurred the visitors to a 135-run victory in the deciding seventh game on Sunday to sign off the tour in style.

Their feats have breathed fresh life into the side who next take on Bangladesh and have given them renewed confidence for next year's World Cup.

Gayle, a 23-year-old left-hander, led a transformation in the batting department after West Indies had lost a three-Test series 2-0, conceding the first two games with well over a day to spare.

He had a stunning sequence of 103, 72, 140 and 101 to reign supreme during his team's 4-3 one-day victory.

Gayle's rapid knocks featured forceful drives through the covers and mighty lofted shots as he and fellow-Jamaican Wavell Hinds, 26, showed they were capable of doing the openers' job for a long time to come.

The 22-year-old Ramnaresh Sarwan also came good, just missing out on an elusive international hundred by making 99 not out in a one-day game after Samuels justified his inclusion for the first time in the drawn third Calcutta Test with his maiden hundred.

The latest efforts should help kick-start Gayle's career after modest performances since making his Test debut two years ago and a one-day career that has largely been quiet after he failed in his first five innings on debut against India and Pakistan.

The 21-year-old Jamaican Samuels, who is seen as the next big batting talent from West Indies, almost did not play in the series.

The team management decided to send him home before the Calcutta Test for breaking curfew to go to a discotheque. He was saved by the more lenient West Indies board president and former fast bowler Wes Hall.

Samuels made good the reprieve by cracking a century at Eden Gardens.

He added two more fifties in the first two one-day games before producing his breathtaking effort in Vijayawada to earn the praise of his captain Carl Hooper and Rahul Dravid, the stand-in India captain.

``It was one of the best one-day innings I've ever seen,'' Hooper said. ``It was just an exceptional innings by Marlon, a truly great knock.''

Dravid watched the hurricane knock as wicketkeeper and said: ``It was one of the special knocks. Samuels batted brilliantly and just stole the game away from us.''

Samuels made his first 50 in a more orthodox manner from 51 balls before taking just 22 more deliveries to reach 100. He then celebrated by waving a piece of cloth given to him by Australia captain Steve Waugh from a red handkerchief he carries in his pocket as a lucky charm.

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