Kanpur: With a five-wicket win over West Indies in Kanpur, India claimed the three-match ODI series 2-1. Facing the 264-run target, India opener Shikhar Dhawan led the chase with a fluent 119, while Yuvraj Singh scored a half-century to set India firmly on the victory path. MS Dhoni then took India across the line with an unbeaten 23.
Earlier, put in to bat on a foggy morning at Green Park Stadium, three half-centuries from the top order helped the visitors to 263 for five, despite a shaky start and the lack of acceleration by the batsmen in the latter stage of the innings – except for the last three overs, which yielded 41, courtesy Darren Sammy’s 29-ball 37-run cameo. Although they were kept on their toes by the Indian seamers early on, the West Indies batters continued to score steadily at over five runs-per over to set a competitive target for India.
After his captain opted to bowl first, Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave India their first breakthrough by uprooting Johnson Charles leg-stump. But a 117-run partnership between Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels wrested the advantage away from India. It was only in the 30th over that India ended the flourishing partnership. Powell, while attempting to sweep Ravichandran Ashwin, top-edged straight into the safe hands of Shikhar Dhawan at short fine-leg. And a few overs later, Samuels was Ashwin’s next victim. Dropped on 60 by Virat Kohli in slips, the batsman was castled by the off-spinner after adding 11 to his tally.
While Darren Bravo continued to anchor the innings, he found little support to go after the Indian attack as the innings neared completion. Lendl Simmons departed edging Ravindra Jadeja to MS Dhoni behind the stumps, while Dwayne Bravo holed out to Ashwin in the cover region. With Darren Sammy at the other end, the pair managed to add only 67 runs off the last 49 balls.
During the run-chase, India lost their two in-form batsmen, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, early in the innings. While Rohit was sent back to the dressing room after edging a Ravi Rampaul delivery to Dwayne at first slip, 32 runs later, the bowler got one to take the edge of Kohli’s bat and land in the hands of the ‘keeper.
At 61 for two, Yuvraj Singh joined Shikhar Dhawan in the middle. It was the left-handed opener’s turn to hold the innings together as India pursued a series win. With the stylish Yuvraj for company, the dashing opener kept India on top of the required run-rate as he blazed away to 50 off 43 balls. Meanwhile, at the other end, Yuvraj too gained momentum and particularly favoured the mid-wicket region to hit his share of boundaries.
There was little that the visitors could do as the left-handed pair milked the bowlers effortlessly. While Yuvraj inched towards his 50, Dhawan marched towards his century with aplomb.
However, the flow of runs was stemmed by Sunil Narine. The off-spinner, who tormented the middle order, had Yuvraj edge one to the slips and depart for 55.
Another left-hander, Suresh Raina, replaced him to take the innings forward as India closed in on the target. With the hosts still 46 runs adrift, Dhawan’s knock came to an end as the opener hit the ball back to Dwayne to walk back for 119. And five overs later, with the home team coasting, Raina was sent back by Dwayne for 34 bringing Ravindra Jadeja to the middle. The India captain and the all-rounder then attained the target with 23 balls to spare.
Man of the Match: Shikhar Dhawan for his match-winning 119
Man of the Series: Virat Kohli for scoring a total of 204 runs in 3 innings at 68.00, including two half-centuries