By S S Ramaswamy
Ahmedabad: Dec 5, 2011
West Indies finally got their act together to snatch an upset 16-run victory over world champions India to keep themselves afloat in the five-match series.
Chasing a competitive 261, Rohit Sharma struck a classy 95 but the Indians lacked firepower to overhaul the target and were ultimately bowled out for 244 in 46.5 overs.
West Indies, who desperately needed a victory to keep themselves in the reckoning, recorded their first win in the tour to reduce the margin to 1-2 in the ODI series after having lost the Test rubber 2-0.
The last wicket pair of Abhimanyu Mithun (23) and Umesh Yadav (11 not out) raised hopes of unlikely win with 28-run stand after India were reduced to 216 for nine in 43.3 overs.
But it was not be as West Indies' most impressive bowler Ravi Rampaul (4/57) trapped Mithun plumb in front of the wicket to end India's winning streak.
Sharma, whose 100-ball knock was laced with 10 fours and a six, and Ravichandran Ashwin (31 in 64 balls) put on a defiant stand of 91 in 115 balls to keep India in the hunt after a top-order collapse that saw India lose half of their side with only 84 on board by the 16th over.
The dangerous-looking stand was finally broken by debutant Sunil Narine (2/34) when he had Ashwin LBW in the 40th over.
And then Sharma was brilliantly by run out West Indies skipper Darren Sammy with a direct hit four overs later to tilt the balance of the match.
Mithun, who struck two fours and as many sixes, and Yadav brought India closer to an improbable win but in the end it was not enough as West Indies clawed their way back into the series.
The fourth ODI of the series is slated to be held on December 8 at Indore and the final game at Chennai on December 11.
Earlier, India let the visitors off the hook after opting to field on a turning track as the sixth-wicket pair of Andre Russell and Sammy smashed the home team bowlers to all parts of the ground to score a 79 runs off the last five overs.
The whirlwind unbeaten knocks of Sammy (41 off 17) and Russell (40 off 18) helped West Indies rally from a poor 181 for five in the 45th over to a very competitive 260 for five.
Russell struck four fours and two sixes while Sammy, who had scored 0 and 2 in his the first two games, hit five fours and two huge hits over the fence.
The late onslaught of Sammy and Russell stunned the big crowd, who had till then witnessed a fine half century from Marlon Samuels (58 off 93).
The Indian run-chase never really got off after they lost captain Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir off successive balls for ducks in the second over.
Sehwag tried to drive an away swinging delivery and edged one to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin in the first ball of the second over and then Gambhir shouldered arms to a ball that darted in and hit him plumb in front.
The third wicket pair of Parhtiv Patel and Virat Kohli (20) did not look in trouble at all as both were scoring runs at a brisk rate when disaster struck as the latter was dismissed leg before by off-spinner Narine, a decision which totally displeased him.
But Patel continued to bat attractively till he was foxed by a ball that turned a bit from Marlon Samuels and hit the top of off stump.
India, down on the mat at 79 for four, were dealt another blow when out-of-sorts Suresh Raina failed for the third game running, edging Rampaul down the leg side to Rampaul to leave the hosts gasping at 84 for 5 after 16 overs.
The Indian batsmen found it difficult to work the spinners away on a track that afforded turn.
Ravindra Jadeja rode on his luck and was declared leg before to Rampaul before TV replays showed it was a no-ball.
He was later run out, going for a sharp single, at the striker's end to see India in a spot of bother at 105 for six.
Sharma, who had scored 72 and 90 not out in the first two games, notched up his third successive half century, and 11th of his career, before being run out at the non-striker's end by Sammy's accurate throw from mid-on.
Sharma, who had a slice of luck when Sammy let him off at 33, batted superbly while opener Patel got inspired by his home town crowd and hit seven sweetly timed fours in his 35-ball knock.
The biggest partnership, worth 91 runs in 115 balls, came from the seventh wicket pair of Sharma and Ashwin to bring India closer to the target.
Earlier, after a slow start, Samuels, who too had flopped in the first two games, kick-started the West Indies innings with a well-made 58 with the help of five fours and a six but his dismissal by Ashwin put the brakes on the visitors.
Except Lendl Simmons, all the top-order batsmen of West Indies got starts before fading out.
Wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin (38) and Kieron Pollard (29) did their bit, but struggled to a large extent against India's slow bowlers.
After the fall of Ramdin and Pollard in a space of four balls, it was left to Russell and his skipper Sammy to accelerate the West Indies innings and the duo did not disappoint, specially taking off-colour Yadav for a ride.
The most impressive bowlers for India were medium pacer R Vinay Kumar, who grabbed two for 39, while Ashwin scalped one for 33.
Both Mithun, who gave away 23 runs in his last over to finish with poor figures of one for 47 from his seven overs, and Yadav, who had taken five wickets in the first two games, were totally off target today. (PTI)
Brief Scores: West Indies 260 for 5 in 50 overs (Marlon Samuels 58, Darren Sammy 41*, Andre Russell 40*; R Vinay Kumar 2 for 39) bt India 244 all out in 46.5 overs (Rohit Sharma 95, Parthiv Patel 39, R Ashwin 31; Ravi Rampaul 4 for 57, Sunil Narine 2 for 34) by 16 runs.