Hosts West Indies scraped their way to a one-wicket win over No 1-ranked India in the second One-Day International (ODI) match of the tri-series at Sabina Park.
Set a moderate 230 to win, the West Indies got home with 14 balls to spare, but not before India threatened to steal the match away after Johnson Charles (97) and Darren Bravo (55) put on 116 for the fourth wicket. The West Indies slumped from a comfortable 142 for three to 220 for nine, but got home in the end to boost them to nine points ahead of both India and Sri Lanka in the points table.
The Indian seamers ripped through the Windies top order, reducing them to 26 for three, before Charles and Bravo launched a counter-attack. The big-hitting right-left combination took the attack to the Indians, and even targeted their ace bowler Ravindra Jadeja, who took 12 wickets in the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2013. The duo all but took the game away from India, before some superb fielding got the men in blue back into the reckoning.
In the 28th over, with the Windies cruising along at 142 for four, Bravo tried to pull Ravichandran Ashwin over mid-wicket, but an alert Shikhar Dhawan reacted quickly and plucked a catch out of thin air. A couple of overs later, skipper Kieron Pollard, standing in for the injured incumbent Dwayne Bravo, edged Ishant Sharma to substitute India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik’s right, who dived and latched on to the catch. Karthik’s counterpart, Denesh Ramdin, did not last long as Ashwin’s off-break found the gap between his bat and pad.
Darren Sammy added a quick 29 before holing out to third man to give Ishant his second wicket, before Charles went for an unnecessary aggressive shot with 19 to win off the last 10 overs and hit the ball straight to mid-off.
A tense finish ensued as India’s acting skipper Virat Kohli brought Suresh Raina into the attack in the 44th over with the Windies needing 10 runs and India one wicket. The ploy worked as Raina got Sunil Narine to drive him straight into the waiting hands of mid-on to make it 220 for nine.
However, the last wicket pairing of birthday boy Kemar Roach and Tino Best stuck it out and calmly ticked away the runs to give the Windies their second straight win of the tournament.
The home team were off to a good start earlier in the morning after opting to field first due to the moisture. The Indian opening pair, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, had shared 382 runs between them in five matches in the Champions Trophy, including two century partnerships. However, today, they could manage just 25 before Dhawan (11) gave a simple caught-and-bowled to Roach.
Kohli (11), who had had a successful outing in whites the last time he had visited the Caribbean isles, could not add to his reputation as he edged Sammy’s slow-medium pace to Chris Gayle in the slips, who added a bit of his typical theatrics while taking a one-handed diving catch. At 39 for two within the first Powerplay, India found themselves in a situation they hadn’t encountered too often in recent history.
It wasn’t as if the hosts didn’t try to go overboard with their hospitality towards the No 1-ranked side. Bravo, fielding at third man, thought he had effected a vital breakthrough in the early overs when Rohit mistimed a shot straight down the former’s throat. In his excitement, Bravo kicked the ball away after taking the catch, but instead of ecstatic teammates running towards him in delight, Bravo was to get furious gestures from his captain for the day, Kieron Pollard, only to realize that the shot had resulted off a free hit. Later, Sammy, fielding at gully, chose not to go for what would have been an easy catch with a little effort after Tino Best’s delivery hit Rohit’s gloves and looped towards the former Windies skipper.
Rohit went on to score a calm half-century, and combined with an even more sedate Karthik for a 59-run stand that consumed more than 16 overs, but steadied India’s innings. Karthik was to fall for 23 that came off 56 deliveries, as the Indians sauntered on to 113 for three in 30 overs. Rohit finally decided to give the charge in the 31st over, bowled by Sammy, and scored 11 off the first five deliveries. Good sense would have prompted him to not go for any more heroics off the last ball of the over, but the 26-year-old went for a heave over long-on which was mistimed an landed in the lap of long-off.
This brought the ever-reliable partnership of captain MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina together, who averaged a staggering 60.50 prior to this match in ODIs. The duo took on from where Rohit and Karthik had left off and carried India past the 40-over mark without breaking a sweat, and without giving two hoops about the run-rate. At the end of 40 overs, India were 160 for four and strolling along at a leisurely run-rate of exactly four.
After a 58-run partnership, a bit of urgency got the better of Raina who chased a wide delivery from Roach and edged it straight to ‘keeper Ramdin. A collapse was to follow as India fell from 182 for four to 212 for seven. Their cause wasn’t helped with Dhoni pulling up his hamstring and struggling for a while, before being dismissed for 27.
In the end, Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave his team 10 more runs to defend by hitting Sunil Narine for a four and a six off the last two balls of the innings. As it turned out, it wasn’t to be enough.
India 229 for 7 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 60, Suresh Raina 44; Kemar Roach 2 for 41, Darren Sammy 2 for 41) lost to West Indies 230 for 9 in 47.4 overs (Johnson Charles 97, Darren Bravo 55; Umesh Yadav 3 for 40, Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 44) by 1 wicket.