High-flying India knock West Indies out with emphatic win
Jasprit Bumrah crippled West Indies with his pace. (AFP Image)

MANCHESTER: Just about enough with the bat, but ruthless with the ball. This perfectly sums up India‘s dominance against West Indies as they registered an impressive 125-run win on Thursday. The victory puts India go second on the points-table and on the brink of a semi-final berth, and ends West Indies’ campaign in the World Cup. ALSO READ: Rohit unimpressed after dubious caught-behind decision

The inexperienced Windies batting line-up never had a clue against India’s pacers, led by Mohammed Shami‘s 4/16, who rocked a chase of 269 – on the back of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni‘s half-centuries and a handy contribution by allrounder Hardik Pandya – on a slowish, deteriorating wicket at the Old Trafford.

Dented early, West Indies never recovered. Their only sizeable effort with the bat was 55-run stand between Sunil Ambris and Nicholas Pooran. Once that was taken care of, West Indies imploded to lose their next seven wickets for 55 runs before their tail was wiped out. ALSO READ: Kohli fastest to 20000 international runs

For the second time in two games, India’s middle-order vulnerability was exposed. In Southampton it were the Afghanistan spinners who strangled India and got breakthroughs, for the West Indies, their strength, their pacers rose to the occasion, led by Kemar Roach‘s tidy 3/36.

Between overs 21 and 30, India scored 51 and lost three wickets. Kohli, became the fastest to 20000 international runs with a fourth consecutive half-century but couldn’t convert it into three figures. Struggling at 180 for 5 with the Indian skipper gone, it was left to Dhoni and Pandya to give India a push.

Both batsmen added 70 off 60 balls. Dhoni, who in the previous match, received flak for his slow batting, lifted India with an unbeaten half-century with 49 runs coming in the final five overs.

India’s pattern in the first 25 overs was erringly similar to their approach against Afghanistan. Rohit Sharma was dismissed early to a dubious call and KL Rahul, having worked hard to get a start threw it away to a callous shot yet again. Kohli held up one end but Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav’s dismissal left it on their skipper and Dhoni to help India through their rebuilding passage. Once Kohli fell to his compatriot Jason Holder, Dhoni and Pandya injected some much-needed impetus.

To think that Roach was not part of the West Indies’ starting XI from the beginning of the tournament. He and Sheldon Cottrell did not get early wickets but kept Rohit and Rahul quiet. The first boundary was scored after 27 balls when Rohit cut Cottrell past backward point and collected a six with a trademark pull before inside-edging to the keeper. Initially declared not out, despite inconclusive evidence, the decision was overturned.

Rahul and Kohli batted to put 69 off 88. Rahul collected the gaps behind square off Fabian Allen and padded him with good effect. Kohli began with two quick boundaries in a space of seven balls before executing a cut that beat the fielders inside the 30-yard circle. From there however, he went 10 overs without a boundary with West Indies tightening things up.

While Roach provided the breakthrough, the real threat was Holder. He began with two maidens and conceded just five in his next three. Both Kohli and Rahul had to measure their approach against Holder’s fourth-stump line. Then came a superb delivery, with Holder beating Rahul’s defence to clean him up with the batsman attempting a repeat off a flick that got him a boundary.

Kohli reached his half-century off 55 balls but Roach’s double-wicket burst, in which he had Shankar and Jadhav out caught behind in quick succession. With Kohli and Dhoni at the crease, India batted alarmingly slow – 40 runs in almost 10 overs. India’s hopes of Kohli taking off from there received a major blow when the Indian captain pulled a ball that kept low to substitute Darren Bravo.

Dhoni was on 8 when Shai Hope missed what would have been a second successive stumping for the former Indian captain. Off Allen, Dhoni chipped down only to be beaten by the turn. Hope, with almost an eternity to get Dhoni out, failed to collect the ball, twice.

In Pandya though, Dhoni found respite and in the final eight overs, India got a move on. Pandya began with a pull for his first boundary, followed by Dhoni’s first four in 16 overs. Two more cracking boundaries from Pandya pushed India towards 250 before he fell to Sheldon Cottrell for 46 crucial runs. Dhoni held himself till the final over before taking on Cottrell, muscling him for two sixes and a four.

In defence of the target, Shami picked up from where he left off at the Ageas Bowl. Beaten by his pace, Chris Gayle top edged to Jadhav at mid-on, but Shami’s dismissal of Hope has got to be right up as there as far as the top five wicket-taking deliveries of the World Cup is concerned. The ball pitched outside off, Hope went for the drive, the ball jarred back in and off stumps knocked off. Hope left in the field in complete disbelief.

The next ten overs were all about India and their bowling squeezing the runs, with Jasprit Bumrah crippling West Indies. The scoreboard crawled to 29 at the end of Powerplay, the lowest of the tournament yet. The boundaries didn’t come and neither was the strike rotated. Nicholas Pooran and Sunil Ambris appeared like two men without plan on a slowing wicket. West Indies had gone 10 overs without a boundary and Shami’s first spell read 2/15 in five overs.

Pandya immediately created chances. In his first overs, two deliveries took the top edged but both occasions landed safely near third man. Ambris finally got a couple of boundaries but was beaten by a Pandya off-cutter. From there the wheels came off. Pooran, called the next big thing of West Indies cricket, holed out to Shami at long-on, Holder slapped a drive to Jadhav and Brathwaite giving Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal a wicket each.

At 98 for 5, Bumrah was re-introduced. The result was two wickets in three balls, and nearly a second straight hat-trick for India only for Roach to bring the bat down on time. Shami returned to wipe the tail shortly after to keep India unbeaten.

Brief Scores: India 268/7 (Virat Kohli 72, MS Dhoni 56; Kemar Roach 3/36) beat West Indies 143 (Sunil Ambris 31, Nicholas Pooran 28; Mohammed Shami 3/16) by 125 runs.