Port of Spain: Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan slammed half-centuries as India pocketed the first ODI of five-match series against the West Indies in style, defeating the hosts by 4 wickets.
Chasing only 215 for victory, India, despite having suffered early hiccups, made a lightwork of the West Indian total with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and skipper Suresh Raina contributing with the bat.
When captain Raina joined Rohit in the middle, India were 104/4 with just two frontline batsmen remaining. But they put together a match-winning 80-run stand to hand the West Indies a four-wicket defeat.
Raina played according to the situation and provided a solid support to Rohit, who was going great guns with his elegant shots. Raina made 43 off 50 balls with 4 fours.
After his departure, India lost Yusuf Pathan (10) too, but Rohit stood like a rock and saw India overtaking the West Indies total with 31 balls to spare.
Rohit Sharma, who had earlier been blamed for not taking his cricket seriously, seemed to have finally responded with a mature innings that helped India seal an impressive victory in the first ODI. His 68-run innings came off 75 balls with just 3 fours and a six.
Though most of the West Indian bowlers bowled without any venom, it was the fast improving leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo (1/37), who troubled all the Indian batters with his guile on a pitch that helped the tweakers throughout the entire match.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan made his maiden ODI half-century off 73 balls to pull India out of the woods. Dhawan played cautiously and helped his team steady after three early wickets. He hit three fours and a six.
But keeping the trends of this match, he too threw his wicket away after making 51.
After restricting the hosts to 214/9, India started off really well before Parthiv Patel decided to take a suicidal single. Parthiv Patel’s promising knock of 15-ball 13 came to an end as he ran himself out, giving the West Indies their first wicket in the process.
West Indian pace spearhead Ravi Rampaul gave India a huge blow as he removed in-form Virat Kohli for just 2. Kohli nicked a wide delivery from Rampaul that went straight to wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo gave West Indies a vital breakthrough by picking up the wicket of S Badrinath. Badrinath made a sedate 17 off 30 balls with the help of a single four. India were, at that stage, tottering for 61/3.
Earlier, Indian bowlers bowled superbly to restrict West Indies to a modest 214/9 on a typical West Indies wicket at the Queen’s Park Oval that helped spinners throughout the match.
Veteran offie Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the Indian bowlers as he chipped in with 3 wickets while part-time spinner Suresh Raina took with 2 wickets to put breaks on the West Indies even when two half-centurion Marlon Samuels (55) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (56) were going on well.
Sarwan played really well as he scored a gritty fifty under pressure off 92 balls. His half-century consisted of 5 hits to the fence. But immediately after hitting the half-century, he was caught brilliantly by wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel off Munaf Patel.
Marlon Samuels also hit a restrained fifty off 71 balls. Like Sarwan, he too, departed soon after reaching the milestone, thus minimizing the chances for his team putting up a big total.
After having lost three wickets for 59 runs, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels, steadied the West Indies ship as they helped their team cross 100-trun mark with a cautious partnership.
Indian spinners, meanwhile, bowled tightly, preventing the West Indians to break free. Both the paceman Praveen Kumar (2/37) and Munaf Patel (2/47) also bowled economically and picked up early wickets to break the backbone of the West Indies batting.
Praveen Kumar drew the first blood for India as he removed Lendl Simmons for just 6 after West Indian captain Darren Sammy won the toss and elected to bat first against India at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Simmons, who was struggling throughout his 23-ball knock, mistimed a short ball from Kumar that was taken easily by Harbhajan Singh at mid-off.
Munaf Patel gave West Indies their second blow as he dismissed talented Darren Bravo for just 4. Bravo chased a wide delivery from Munaf and gave a simple catch to Rohit Sharma at first slip.
Opener Kirk Edwards’s pain staking vigil of 45-ball 21 came to an end as he top edged an off-break from Harbhajan Singh straight to slip fielder Virat Kohli. Edwards was the third wicket to fall as the Indian spinners tightened the noose around the Windies batsmen.