By BV Swagath
West Indies held their nerve to clinch a 1-wicket win over India in Match 2 at the Sabina Park in Kingston. Birthday boy Kemar Roach who turned 25 was the key man scoring an unbeaten 14 in 32 balls to see the hosts through. West Indies despite shaken at the top were going strongly at the Indian target of 230 with opener Johnson Charles scoring an attacking 97 from 100 balls.
The hosts lost the plot towards the last phase of their run chase with batsmen getting out playing ambitious shots. India came back in the contest strongly but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch in taking the last wicket despite having 10 runs to defend.
India bounced back early in the West Indian run chase with Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar reducing the hosts to 26 for 3 by the 5th over. Danger man Chris Gayle was first to depart, uppishly cutting a Yadav delivery to short cover point. Devon Smith was out lbw to the same bowler who got a length ball to zip back. Marlon Samuels got out chopping an inducker from Bhuvneshwar onto his stumps.
The visitors were supposed to be on top but a fourth wicket stand between Johnson Charles and Darren Bravo completely neutralized the early damages. The pair added 116 runs at a good pace before Darren Bravo (55 from 78 balls with 5 fours and a six) miscued a pull off Ashwin to mid wicket after scoring a fine fifty. Bravo’d wicket gave an opening for Team India to once again claw back in the contest which they did with successive wickets of Skipper Pollard (brilliantly caught behind by a diving Karthik after dabbing at an Ishant Sharma bouncer) and Denesh Ramdin (bowled by Ashwin through the gate from round the sticks).
West Indies slipped to 161 for 6 in the 32d over, a situation that threatened to spoil the efforts of Johnson Charles who was keeping one end intact with a mixture of caution and aggression. Just when the match was delicately poised, Darren Sammy came in to play a crucial cameo of 29 from 25 balls with 2 fours and 3 sixes to reduce the target to just another 33 runs. Sammy was dismissed top edging a pull off Ishant to thirdman.
India got the match in its pocket when the 24-year-old Johnson Charles missed out on a maiden ODI century when he slapped a length ball off Yadav to mid off with 19 more runs to win. India got one more wicket after this with Narine whacking Raina into the hands of mid on. West Indies with this were left with 10 runs to get with the last wicket in hand and thanks to Roach’s stubborn resistance got home. India did go down fighting but certainly missed the services of Skipper MS Dhoni in the captaincy and most importantly behind the stumps with the stand-in keeper Dinesh Karthik missing out a crucial stumping chance offered by Charles with West Indies at 198 for 7 at that stage.
Earlier in the afternoon, India worked really hard to reach a modest total of 229 for 7 on a tricky batting pitch at the Sabina Park in Kingston. Shikhar Dhawan was the first to get out in the Indian innings at 25 for 1 in 4.2 overs when he gave the charge to Roach but could only give a return catch trying to blast one through the line. Kohli was next man to go, giving the charge to Sammy but edging it to the diving Gayle at slip to leave India on the backfoot at 39 for 2 in the 10th over. Dinesh Karthik got a partnership going with Rohit, scoring a slow 56-ball 23 before he was caught and bowled by Samuels off an inside edge.
Rohit Sharma who was responsibly anchoring the Indian innings got out after an 89-ball 60 (with 4 fours and a six) when he miscued a big shot off Sammy to long off. Rohit’s hard work set up India to 124 for 4 in 31 overs. Suresh Raina played a crucial innings of 44 from 55 balls to set up India in the slog overs. Skipper MS Dhoni scored 27 from 35 balls while straining his hamstring in the course of his innings.
The visitors struggled to find any sort of momentum though with the pitch proving to be difficult for strokeplay. It was only a couple of sixes in the final over off Sunil Narine from Bhuvneshwar Kumar that could lift India to a fighting total of 229 with their bowling attack quite suited to exploit this two-paced and up and down pitch in Jamaica. Marlon Samuels was the most difficult bowler for the Indians with the part-time offie conceding only 20 runs off his 9 overs. Kemar Roach, Tino Best and Darren Sammy took a couple of wickets each for the homeside.
Toss and Teams: West Indies have won the toss and asked India to bat first under overcast conditions. The hosts are being led by Kieron Pollard with Dwayne Bravo out with a groin injury. Ravi Rampaul is also out of the match with a sprained ankle which he sustained during the opening game against Sri Lanka. Devon Smith and Tino Best are the replacements of Bravo and Rampaul.
India has gone in with the same side that played and won in the Champions Trophy.
West Indies: Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard (C), Denesh Ramdin (WK), Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine, Kemar Roach, Tino Best
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav