What was billed as a grand battle between Caribbean six-hitters and Indian spinners turned out to be a contest so one-sided that the result was apparent even halfway into the second innings. Once MS Dhoni’s bowlers restricted the West Indies to just 129, top guns Rohit Sharma (62*, 55b) and Virat Kohli (54, 41b) forged a majestic 106-run alliance to make light of what was already task of limited difficulty.
The match did go into the last over. And Yuvraj Singh did his best to enliven it with his ineptness. But Kohli and Rohit had done enough by then to accommodate a minor stall such as this. Both helped themselves to half-centuries, but as much as their blades helped India garner its second successive win, it was the bowling that had set it up. Spinners Amit Mishra and R.Ashwin and part-timer Suresh Raina gave very little away, while young Bhuvneswhar Kumar turned in a probing spell of swing bowling that kept the dangerous openers Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith quiet at the top of the order. Mishra reeled in his second Man of the Match for figures of 4-0-18-2.
The commencement of India’s own pursuit was equally dispiriting.
Shikhar Dhawan had not troubled the scorers when he got a dubious call in the first over to a skiddy Samuel Badree delivery, which had appeared to be slanting down. With India on 3/1 at the end of two overs, the Windies may have begun to harbor hopes of making it competitive. Kohli dispelled any such notions by racing to 24 off the first 12 balls he faced. Badree was mowed for six, Krishmar Santokie butchered on the leg-side, down which he persistently strayed, and watching the confidence of Kohli's approach, Rohit too got over his iffy start and into the act.
He went inside-out and over point to Badree and spanked Sunil Narine’s waist-high full-toss over long-off. When the fine-leg was inside the circle, he stepped away and scooped Sammy to the fence. The duo brought up their fifty stand in just 33 balls. And once less that fifty were needed in way more than as many deliveries, neither exhibited the kind of brain-freeze that would have stalled India’s progress. Singles were converted, gaps were picked, the strike ‘rotated’ – is Sammy taking pointers? – and the loose ball mutilated. By the time Kohli chopped Andre Russel back on to the stumps, India were just 23 short, and even Yuvraj's horrible form couldn't prevent the inevitable.
If it was spin alone that had restricted Pakistan to 130 in the first game, a combination of spin and swing held back the West Indians to one less on Sunday. Bhuvneswhar was unplayable with the new ball. He turned in three overs for as many runs and his either-way movement in the air confounded the usually belligerent Smith, who scored just two off the first 19 balls he faced – 29 balls for 11 overall - before being athletically caught-and-bowled by Ashwin.
The openers could manage just 24 in the Powerplay. Gayle was yet to open his account when he was dropped by Ashwin in the slips. He was reprieved again on 19 (by Yuvraj, his second dropped catch in as many games). Tested by Ashwin and teased by Raina, Gayle appeared to break through with a typical pulled six off Shami, and then powered a four through the leg-side. Mishra was welcomed right after the Powerplay with a maximum over long-on. The next ball, a googly, was top-edged to midwicket and swirled in the air before Yuvraj spilled it.
Gayle had labored to 34 off 33 balls when he was run out by Shami’s throw from point. The score then was 62/2 in 13 overs. And it didn’t get any better, when Mishra, in the 15th, removed Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo off successive balls, one a classic leg-spinner’s stumping, the other a googly-engineered leg-before.
Sammy’s side would have ended with far less had Lendl Simmons and Narine not clobbered Jadeja for three sixes in an wayward final over that leaked 21. The left-arm spinner went for 48 in his four overs. Shami too kept up his generosity – conceding 27 in three – but the turning troika of Mishra, Ashwin and Raina turned in 10 overs for 50 and settled it.
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