With 22 needed off 19 balls, five wickets in hand, and Sammy and Lendl Simmons (62 off 74) batting beautifully, West Indies collapsed, so that the equation came down to three runs needed off the final over and only two wickets in hand. Sammy though, was still there, and he ensured that interest would be retained till the series decider in Kanpur on Wednesday.
The highlight of West Indies’ chase was the 82-run stand for the sixth wicket between Sammy and Simmons, but their partnership came on the back of a good showing by the team as a whole.
West Indies began the match on the right note, with Dwayne Bravo winning the toss and bowling first at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam. Led by Ravi Rampaul’s 4 for 60, West Indies then restricted India to a chaseable total, and the reply was set up by half-centuries from Kieron Powell and Darren Bravo, before Sammy and Simmons brought forth an avalanche of boundaries to take their side to the doorstep of victory.
Sammy and Simmons got together with West Indies 185 for 5 in the 35th over, needing 104 to win off 93 balls. They saw that equation become 86 needed off 60 balls before unveiling the big shots. Sammy started the flow, punishing Mohammad Shami, and Simmons then rode his luck, dropped by Yuvraj Singh at long-on off Bhuvneshwar Kumar on 43 in the 42nd over, to add a few big shots of his own.
The sixth-wicket stand was worth 82 off 75 deliveries when Simmons fell to Ravindra Jadeja’s last ball, trapped in front, leaving West Indies 267 for 6 in 47 overs. But even though further hiccups followed, they had enough in the tank to cross the line.
That West Indies had restricted India to a manageable total was down to Rampaul’s clever bowling. He hit good lengths and used his variations skilfully, but had Jason Holder to thank for taking the all-important wicket of Virat Kohli, one short of his century. Holder completed a splendid catch on the fine-leg boundary, running and diving to his right after Kohli had hooked a well-directed bouncer when on 99, to silence the vocal 27,000-strong crowd.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s typically robust hitting, including his trademark sending-balls-into-orbit swishes, gave India some thrust in the final overs after Kohli’s wicket had left them 209 for 5 in 40 overs, but even Dhoni’s unbeaten 40-ball 51 in his 150th match as ODI captain wasn’t enough to give India a winning total.
West Indies got off to a rocky start in its chase, with both Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels falling early to leave it 23 for 2 in the sixth over. However, a 100-run stand at better than a run a ball between Darren Bravo and Powell put the chase back on track.
Both Bravo and Powell batted intelligently, picking the gaps and loose deliveries to keep the runs ticking along. However, both fell to R Ashwin (2 for 37) in an eventful passage of play in which Bravo (50 off 54) was dropped thrice before being caught in the space of eight balls, and Powell (59 off 70) stepped out only to be comprehensively beaten by the turn and stumped. From 123 for 2, West Indies was147 for 4, and India had regained the ascendancy, reinforcing it with Dwayne Bravo’s wicket in the 35th over. That was before Sammy and Simmons authored the last words.
Earlier, Kohli’s assured innings and Dhoni’s fireworks had pushed India to a defendable, but not formidable, total.
Kohli had walked in to bat when India were 21 for 1 in the fifth over, after Rohit (12) had fallen, caught in the slips off Rampaul for what felt like his first low score in months. Kohli started by picking off the runs quickly, but his first boundary came off the 34th ball he faced, though he had hit several other crisp shots before that as well. At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan hit a couple of cover drives and a straight drive that were a feast for the eyes, but his innings was cut short when he was adjudged lbw off Veerasammy Permaul in the 14th over. The ball appeared to be sliding down the leg side and Dhawan was unhappy to leave after a 37-ball stay that brought him 35 runs.
Yuvraj, who was once again batting at his old No.4 spot, never found his free-flowing mode, struggling particularly against the spinners. Just before Yuvraj fell in the 28th over, Kohli reached his 28th ODI half-century with a deft late cut off Sammy.
He and Suresh Raina shared a quick 65-run stand at better than a run a ball after Yuvraj fell to Sammy, but when both fell to Rampaul within a short space of time, West Indies had India on the back foot. Dhoni wrested back as much of the advantage as he could, but in the end, the total proved inadequate in the face of some inspired middle-order hitting.