Yuvraj returns to run-scoring ways as India races to five-wicket win over West Indies in final ODI
A pleasing century from Shikhar Dhawan and an important half-century from Yuvraj Singh gave India a five-wicket win in the third One-Day International against West Indies. Dhawan scored a 95-ball 119, his fifth century in the format, and Yuvraj returned to form with a 74-ball 55 as India claimed the three-match series 2-1 at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur on Wednesday (November 27).
Batting first, West Indies reached 263 for 5, thanks largely to a ballistic, late unbroken partnership of 67 between Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo, which built on a 117-run second-wicket stand between Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels. A middle-order implosion had left West Indies struggling at 196 for 5 in the 42nd over, until Sammy and Darren Bravo fought back. Their batting was all about power and tenacity, as they slogged away in the death overs. They amassed 41 in the last three overs as West Indies played itself into a fighting position.
In its chase, India was helped by toothless West Indies bowling. Apart from Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo, none of the other bowlers looked capable of restricting the charge of the batsmen. That suited Dhawan just fine. He was in an aggressive mood and batted with the elegance of a ballet dancer, picking off everything the bowlers threw at him. His authority at one end helped Yuvraj take his time and settle in – significant given his recent lack of runs. Once Yuvraj played himself in, the result was a two-pronged onslaught which yielded 129 runs and took the game away from West Indies. India ended at 266 for 5 with 23 deliveries to spare.
India didn’t get off to an ideal start in its chase, losing two fairly quick wickets. Rohit Sharma fell to Rampaul, edging one to the slip cordon while Virat Kohli, despite looking good, was undone by Rampaul again. By that stage, however, India had reached 61, thanks to Dhawan’s fireworks.
It was then that Yuvraj came in and there began a period of consolidation. Both batsmen treated Narine with care, while taking out their aggression on those bowling from the other end. Yuvraj took a liking to Sammy, showing signs of returning to his best. Twice, he pulled short deliveries from Sammy to the ropes, displaying immense control. He was also compact in defence when facing Narine.
Dhawan was clearly the more aggressive. He hit back-to-back boundaries against Lendl Simmons and Veerasammy Permaul, prompting Bravo to quickly bring back Rampaul and Narine. That had no effect on Dhawan, though. He continued playing his shots, including a graceful sweep to fine leg that was particularly pleasing to watch. Yuvraj took a cue from Dhawan and the result was devastating.
The capacity crowd cheered loudly and appreciatively as both Dhawan and Yuvraj reached landmarks one after the other. However, their partnership was soon broken when Yuvraj was dismissed after edging Narine to Dwayne Bravo at slip. Not too long thereafter, Dhawan followed suit, lobbing a slower ball back to Bravo. By that point, however, India needed just 46 from over 12 overs. Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni put on 37 steady runs before Raina, on his birthday, became Bravo’s second wicket. But that only delayed the inevitable as Dhoni soon finished things off with a flash through the covers.
Earlier, West Indies was given a good foundation by Powell and Samuels. Powell was steady in defence and opportunistic in attack, playing the pace bowlers fairly well. He was efficient on both sides of the wicket, and at one point, he superbly flicked Mohammed Shami off his pads to the square-leg fence. Samuels supported him well enough at the other end, although he rode his luck at times. He did edge a few past the slips, and on a couple of occasions was lucky to find the gap. The two quickly brought up their 50-stand for the second wicket in 61 balls.
Having reached his half-century, Powell started unleashing his repertoire, including a lovely scoop off Raina. It was this enterprise, however, that resulted in his dismissal. He attempted to sweep R Ashwin, but didn’t connect cleanly – the top edge gave Dhawan an easy catch at short fine leg and he departed for 70.
It triggered a West Indies implosion. Samuels fell to a beautiful delivery from Ashwin, the turn taking it through the gate to clip the bails. Simmons failed to repeat his heroics in the second ODI, and was caught behind off Ravindra Jadeja. Dwayne Bravo then played a needlessly aggressive shot and holed out off Shami.
The late pyrotechnics from Sammy and Darren Bravo gave West Indies’ bowlers a reasonable total to defend. But it was far from enough, especially against Dhawan in the mood he was in.