Scorecard | Match pictures
KANPUR: Shikhar Dhawan’s fifth ODI century, possibly his first without the assistance of a ‘life’, was the feature of India’s series-clinching victory over the West Indies in the third and final fixture at Kanpur, on Wednesday. Dhawan’s rollicking 119 (95b, 20x4) helped the hosts chase down the 264 they were set to win on a pitch that aided seam bowling early in the day, but quickly settled down into a decent batting track as the sun came out.
The chase was dealt a double blow when Ravi Rampaul dismissed Rohit Sharma (4) and Virat Kohli (19) early. But Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh (55) added 129 for the third wicket in what turned out to be the decisive phase. Just like the Windies, India too lost their first in the fifth over of the innings. Rohit fished loosely outside off and was caught at first slip. Kohli’s first two hits for four were played in the air, but his confident start was prematurely terminated when a Rampaul length ball caught him in a state of indecisiveness. Clearly in two minds, the aggressive Delhi batsman decided to leave too late, and edged to wicketkeeper Johnson Charles.
Dhawan began with three boundaries in Jason Holder’s first over and smashed him for two more in his second. Cuts and pulls were the order of the day, but Mister Mustachio's superlative form – one that he’s been riding for almost a year now – was obvious in the way he seemed to deal exclusively in the big shot. It was a flurry of such strikes that bailed India out of possible trouble when Sunil Narine was spinning a web around the clueless Yuvraj.
Yuvraj at sea
Narine bowled 33 deliveries for just 18 runs to Yuvraj, who clearly struggled to read him. Just when it looked that the Chandigarh left-hander would eventually give in to relentless pressure, Sammy relieved it through a string of short balls that were duly dispatched to where they deserved to be dispatched to. Yuvraj lived on to reach a (by his standards) laborious fifty in 68 balls, and was finally out to the man who deserved his scalp the most.
Dhawan, meanwhile, was serving up boundaries on cue. He made space to punch left-arm spinner Veerasamy Permaul through the off-side and seemed to gain momentum the nearer he got to three figures. The contest reached a crescendo when Rampaul beat his outside edge, only for the batsman to respond via a succession of powerful drives. He reached his hundred in 73 balls with a streaky four against Narine.
Victory arrived on the back of yet another uninspiring performance by Suresh Raina (34) and Dhawan's eventual fall (a tepid return catch to Dwayne Bravo in the 38th over, with 40-odd needed for victory). Neither, however, had too much of a bearing on the outcome.
A decent spell by off-spinner R. Ashwin had earlier confined the West Indies to 263, in an innings of marked disproportion. Once Johnson Charles was bowled by vicious Bhuvneshwar Kumar inswinger, the visitors rebuild through a big, if somewhat fortuitous, 117-run partnership in 24.3 overs between opener Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels. India’s trio of young seamers (Bhuvneshwar, Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma) gained perceptible movement and several edges in hazy conditions, but were unable to breakthrough again.
India had been unlucky to not pick up Samuels, who was tested somewhat by Shami Mohammad and Mohit, and was dropped by Kohii at slip when he had scored 60. Powell escaped being run-out when Yurvaj fudged a direct hit from point.
Ashwin removed them both. Powell perished to a top-edge on the sweep, while Samuels bowled on the third ball of the batting Powerplay. A phase of quiet came to be, as the Windies lost Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo, but good things were just around the corner.
Darren Bravo (51*) and Sammy (37) clubbed two sixes apiece in a breakneck sixth-wicket stand of 67 in just 8.1 overs, the last three yielding 41 runs. The late flourish took the Caribbeans to a total that may have been competitive for a side other than India playing at home.