After Cyclone Helen lashed India’s south-eastern coast, it was miraculous that this game took place at all. India made 288 thanks to Virat Kohli’s fine 99 and MS Dhoni’s unbeaten 51. As the West Indies gave chase, the dew came to their rescue—so much dew, there ought to be a PepsiCo logo somewhere on the ACA-VDCA Stadium.
India’s bowling was average at best, and they put down four catches. Despite all these factors in their favour, the visitors nearly messed up a straight-forward win. In between some lovely shots, they played some daft ones as well. Darren Bravo and Kieron Powell added 100 runs for the third wicket, a partnership full of flowing drives with full extension of the arms that would have gladdened even Brian Lara. But both got out to poor shots. It came down to Lendl Simmons and then Darren Sammy to finish off the game.
Bravo, dropped thrice in four balls, was set up by Ravichandran Ashwin. He was caught behind unwilling to let go of his habit of forcing the ball towards the square. Meanwhile, Powell gave charge to Ashwin and was stumped so far out, he would have needed an air ticket to get back. Shortly afterwards, captain Dwayne Bravo misplaced a pull-shot that found the only fielder on the leg-side boundary. It seemed the West Indies had messed it up.
SAMMY, SIMMONS FINISH IT OFF
Sammy (63*) and Simmons added 82 for the sixth wicket before Ravindra Jadeja finally made an impact on the game. A flatter delivery caught Simmons in front of the leg-stump. Not to be encumbered by demands of the situation, Sammy kept assailing India’s front-line bowlers. Against Mohit Sharma, he teed off into the midwicket stands. Mohammad Shami was drilled over long-on. And Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was slogged over midwicket a couple of times.
They nearly messed it up again when Jason Holder and Sunil Narine fell attempting the winning stroke. The game went to the final over with three runs remaining. Sammy, cool-headed to the end, saw off the game with a couple of good hits off Mohit.
KOHLI, DHONI LEAD THE WAY
India needed another big score from Kohli today and he didn’t disappoint. Not since Rahul Dravid in the late 1990s has another batsman been as consistent for India. Today, he was watchful at the start: he had no boundaries for 32 balls, but his strike rotation was excellent.
With no fuss, he moved past 50 as India looked good for a 300-plus score. He was in sight of his third hundred in as many ODIs at this ground. On 99, he hooked Ravi Rampaul. It was well-connected but wasn’t placed perfectly. Jason Holder came running around from deep square leg to complete an excellent catch around his ankles.
India’s scoring came to a crawl before MS Dhoni lifted it again in the last five overs that produced 62 runs. Dhoni was on 3 off 17 balls. But then began his six-hitting show: Jason Holder over long-off, Dwayne Bravo over midwicket and Rampaul twice over long-on and midwicket.
Rohit Sharma’s run of big scores of four hundreds and a seventy ended as he slashed an in-cutter to slip. Shikhar Dhawan, who’s been due for a big one against the West Indies, fell sweeping Veerasammy Permaul. Dhawan has failed to cross 40 in the four outings against the visitors. After some tremendous scores to start the year with, Dhawan will find that form is a fair-weather friend.
The highlight of Yuvraj Singh’s short innings was his front-foot pulling. Among other hits, he spotted a leg-cutter from Sunil Narine and smashed it over midwicket for six. The beauty of the play was in Yuvraj’s reading the ball rather than the hit itself. Just as he was working his way back into form, Yuvraj fell to the pull shot, a mistimed hit finding short midwicket. His run of ODI scores—7, 0, 0, 12, 16* and 28—will make him a doubtful starter for the South Africa series.
Like Yuvraj, Suresh Raina continued to disappoint with the bat. He had a life on 13. Lendl Simmons bowled him a half-tracker, Raina swung it to short fine-leg where Kieron Powell put down the easiest catch—a rare troika of a terrible ball, a terrible shot and terrible fielding. Raina didn’t build on the chance, getting out slogging Ravi Rampaul, as India managed just 15-2 in the batting Powerplay, slowing down India’s march to a score of 300.
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