PORT OF SPAIN: Far and away and across time zones India routed the West Indies by 102 runs to clinch what was a must-win match for them in a tri-series with not many takers.
After two straight losses to begin their campaign, normalcy was restored with a favourable result in Duckworth-Lewis affected match.
But it was difficult to focus on Virat Kohli’s bossy century and the terrific seam bowling that gained India a crucial bonus point on Friday.
For while Kohli was smashing an 83-ball 102 at the Queen’s Park Oval, almost as far away at the shrine of another sport with deep colonial roots, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro were co-producing an exhilarating, sapping, five-hour Wimbledon semifinal, begging for attention with extraordinary athleticism and impossible shot making.
The tennis aces did just about enough to distract one from India's innings. And it did not help any that Andy Murray went on to lose the first set against the giant rookie Jerzy Janowicz, thus enlivening what one had presumed would be an eventless second semifinal.
Bat and ball finally took primacy once the tennis ended and the Windies began their chase of India’s impressive 311/7 – a sizable total in whose amassing openers Shikhar Dhawan (69) and Rohit Sharma (46) had as vital a role as their tempestuous captain.
The hosts were 56/2 in ten overs when the skies opened and lost six wickets in the next 12 overs, chasing a reworked target of 274 in 39 overs. Ishant Sharma got Marlon Samuels (6) with a beauty and snared the aggressive Charles (45) with a short-pitched delivery.
Bhuvneshwar got rid of Kieron Pollard for a golden duck with one that bounced and angled into the dangerman and was edged to slip. Ishant then rocked Dwayne Bravo in the nether regions, leaving the home captain sprawled in pain on the pitch. Bravo despaired some more when Denesh Ramdin's leading edge against Yadav was taken at mid off.
Yadav ended Bravo's misery when he jagged a ball back for a successful 'lbw' appeal. At 108/7, it was all over but for the formalities. Kemar Roach and Sunil Narine hung around to entertain the crowd but an Indian win by then was as inevitable as it was deserved. West Indies were all out for 171 in 34 overs as Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina left the field giving each other an earful over a dropped catch.
Earlier, Dhawan and Rohit put on 123 to negate whatever early advantage Dwayne Bravo thought a greentop would accord his fast bowlers. Dhawan electrified with his drives and was particularly severe on mystery spinner Narine, who he clubbed for consecutive sixes.
The left-hander was taken at square leg trying to flick Roach and his fall triggered a minor collapse as India lost four batsmen for 45. Tino Best claimed Rohit four shy of fifty, Samuels had Raina caught at slip while Dinesh Karthik was adjudged caught, albeit harshly, flapping down the leg side.
M. Vijay, coming in at no. 5, stoked the fading fire with an 18-ball 27 that had five hits to the fence, including a gorgeous inside-out drive off Narine. The Chennai batsman and Jadeja again fell quickly, but here is where Kohli came into his own.
The Delhi lad had needed 55 balls to reach his fifty, but the next fifty runs came off just 26 deliveries. Kohli’s 14th ODI century had two sixes and 13 boundaries. He added 90 in 50 balls with R. Ashwin, the off-spinner’s contribution in the seventh-wicket union just 25, and was out on the last ball of the innings.