India’s weakest link – the bowling – was given the responsibility of defending a rain-reduced 274 runs in 39 overs and ensuring it stayed alive in the tri-nation tournament on Friday (July 5).
No score is Chris Gayle-proof and Bhuvneshwar Kumar provided immediate relief for the Indian faithful as he had the big fish edging behind to one that bounced a bit more than usual. Soon, Darren Bravo was dismissed, going for an ambitious cover drive, the edge finding R Ashwin at first slip. As in their previous encounter in Jamaica, after the initial wickets, Johnson Charles attacked the Indian bowlers, and West Indies was 56 for 2 at the end of first Power Play when the rain arrived to temporarily halt its chase.
When play resumed after a 90-minute stoppage, West Indies needed 218 more runs in 29 overs for its revised 274-run target, and India needed to restrict the batsmen to 219 to win the bonus point.
Soon after, Ishant Sharma delivered a corker that rose well above the chest of Marlon Samuels, and the Indian team’s appeal for caught behind was turned down. However, Ishant had his man off the next delivery, softly edging to Dinesh Karthik. Kieron Pollard came in ahead of Dwayne Bravo, but was out first ball fending a short delivery from Kumar into the waiting hands of Ashwin. Kumar finished an impressive spell with figures of 3 for 29 in eight overs, the maximum allowed after the rain delay. The procession continued as Charles top-edged an intended pull off Ishant to Suresh Raina at midwicket.
Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin looked to rebuild and collected boundaries off the spinners, but as Umesh was brought back on, Ramdin offered a leading edge that Kumar accepted gleefully at mid-off, while Dwayne Bravo missed a straight one from Yadav, who later trapped Darren Sammy in front with an off-cutter, leaving West Indies 113 for 8 in the 25th over.
Kemar Roach and Sunil Narine then threatened to deny India the bonus point with an entertaining half-century partnership for the ninth wicket, but Ravindra Jadeja ended the proceedings with two wickets in two deliveries, bowling West Indies out for 171 in 34 overs.
Earlier, Dwayne Bravo returned to lead West Indies after missing the previous game because of a groin strain and put India in to bat. In a surprise move, West Indies opened the bowling with Darren Sammy, who kept Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan quiet for the most part as the scoreboard read 39 for no loss at the end of the first Power Play.
Importantly for India, both Dhawan and Rohit stuck it out and started finding their feet and range gradually as the 100-run partnership was raised in the 22nd over, the third in their short collaboration as opening partners. A ball after the hundred was brought up, Dhawan made his first half-century of the tour off 69 balls, an innings studded with seven delectable boundaries. He kicked into a higher gear after that, sweeping Narine over midwicket and square-leg for consecutive sixes, but fell to a rush of blood, flicking Roach to the deep midwicket fielder, leaving India 123 for 1.
The scoring rate came down after that as Rohit could not get a move on and Kohli took his time settling down. Rohit fell for a laborious 46 in 78 balls as India was quickly reduced to 141 for 2 from a powerful position.
Raina tried to pick up the slack and attack Samuels, but soon perished edging the bowler to the lone slip – Sammy taking a good catch low to his right – as an excellent start was frittered away.
Dinesh Karthik seemed to have received a rough decision from umpire Nigel Llong, as he was adjudged to have gloved a short one from Tino Best down the legside, and the innings was fast disintegrating just as the second Power Play started. The chances of India setting a competitive score rested on Kohli.
Kohli brought up his 50, off just 55 balls, with a single to the offside, and then the fours started flowing from his bat. Ashwin, for his part, did the right thing in their seventh-wicket stand by turning the strike over, and Kohli stepped on the gas.
The shot of the innings came from Kohli’s bat as moved to the legside and lofted Bravo into the second tier behind the extra-cover boundary. Ashwin joined in the fun, dispatching Roach for boundaries on either side of the wicket. And Kohli finally ended his century drought as he rushed for two in the final over of the innings, reaching the mark in 81 balls, having hit 13 boundaries and two huge sixes.
Ashwin and Kohli put together 90 runs in just 8.2 overs as West Indies lost its grip on proceedings. Kohli eventually perished off the last ball of the innings, caught by Sammy at the midwicket boundary off Bravo, but by then he had done enough to ensure India stayed alive in the competition.