Kingston: Kemar Roach got himself a perfect birthday present as he guided West Indies to a thrilling one-wicket victory over India in a nail-biting encounter of the Tri-Series here on Sunday.
Chasing a modest target of 230, West Indies made a heavy weather of the chase despite a sparkling knock of 97 by opener Johnson Charles but finally managed to register their second win in the tournament with 14 balls to spare.
With nine points from two matches, West Indies are in with a bright chance of making it to the finals.
Roach (14 no) kept his cool as he flicked Umesh Yadav (3/43) towards square leg to bring up the victory in a match where fortune swung like a pendulum.
The foundation of the victiry was laid by opener Charles who faced 100 balls hitting eight boundaries and four huge sixes. He added 116 runs for the fourth wicket with Darren Bravo (55) and the victory didn`t look out of sight.
Credit to Indian bowlers who made a fantastic comeback as they got some quick breakthroughs including to come right back into the match before Roach finally sealed it for the hosts.
At the start of the chase, West Indies were in dire straits as they lost both Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels within the first five overs as they were precariously placed at 26 for three.
Yadav removed opposition`s best batsman Gayle (11) and followed it up with wicket of Devon Smith (0) while Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled Samuels (1) to reduce West Indies to 26 for three.
Gayle was dismissed as a delivery from Umesh rose awkwardly and it hit the upper portion of his bat. The resultant catch was taken by Suresh Raina stationed at short cover.
In his next over, Yadav removed left-hander Smith with an inswinger while Samuels dragged one from Kumar back onto his stumps.
Opener Charles however batted positively. The first six scoring strokes were boundaries as he punished both Yadav and Kumar. With minimum backlift and least footwork, Charles successfully hit through the line whenever it was slotted in his zone. He found an able ally in Bravo as the duo resurrected the innings.
The 50 run partnership came off 70 balls. Bravo, who was slow to begin with but chanced his arms against Ravindra Jadeja hitting the bowler over his head for a six.
The duo batted sensibly as the 100 came up in the 22nd over and Charles completed a well-deserved half-century off 60 balls. To celebrate his 50, Charles gave Jadeja the charge to hit him into the stands. The 100 runs for the fourth wicket partnership came off 131 balls and in the 26th over.
With the pitch easing out a bit compared to first half, the West Indian pair didn`t have any problems in negotiating the Indian bowlers. Spin twins Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin weren`t as effective as one expected them to be.
A desperate Virat Kohli leading the side in regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s absence briught back Yadav for his second spell but Charles greeted him with one of the biggest six of the match.
Finally, after a 116-run partnership, Bravo was gone for 55 trying to dispatch a half-tracker from Ashwin but only managing to find Shikhar Dhawan at short mid-wicket.
The wicket rejuvenated the Indians as Ishant Sharma came back for his second spell and bowled a perfect length to induce an edge off rival captain Kieron Pollard which was smartly taken by Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps. From 142 for three, West Indies suddenly became 155 for five.
From 155 for five, it soon became 161 for six as Ashwin operating from round the wicket pushed one which breached Denesh Ramdin`s defence.
Sammy announced his arrival with a huge six off Ishant and followed it up with a backfoot cover drive off Ashwin. If this wasn`t enough, Sammy used Yadav`s pace to hit him over deep square leg for a second six to bring down the required runs to below 50 with 15 overs still remaining.
The former skipper scored a quickfire 29 off 25 balls before he was holed out in the third man region of Ishant`s bowling
Earlier, Indian batsmen battled hard on a difficult track as they managed 229 for seven in stipulated 50 overs.
Rohit Sharma (60) scored a composed half-century while Suresh Raina contributed an useful 44 after the `Men In Blue` were put into bat by West Indies` stand-in captain Kieron Pollard.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni battled cramps that hampered his running between the wickets badly yet he carried on manfully to chip in with 27 off 34 balls before he was cleaned up by a Tino Best inswinger.
There were two notable partnerships in the Indian innings -- 59 for the third wicket between Sharma and Dinesh Karthik and 58 for the fifth wicket between Raina and Dhoni.
Indian batsmen could manage only 17 boundaries in all apart from three sixes. The mandatory batting Powerplay also yielded only 27 runs which was a testimony to the fact that the track wasn`t conducive for ODI cricket.
Sharma frittered away another opportunity to score big as he got out after a well-compiled 60 off 89 balls.
Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Karthik didn`t make significant contributions although Karthik was engaged in a half-century stand with Sharma.
Darren Sammy had a decent outing with the ball as he took two for 41 from his 10 overs. Kemar Roach also had identical figures of 2/41 from 10 overs. Best took 2/54 in 10 overs.
`Man of the moment` Shikhar Dhawan pulled Best and then hit a crisp cover drive off Roach to get couple of boundaries.
Sharma, whose performance has been much better since he started opening the innings started off with a six off Best -- a slash that flew over third man.
However Roach had the last laugh when Dhawan (10) failed to check his uppish drive which the bowler caught on the second attempt.
Virat Kohli (11, 21 balls) struggled to get going on a slow pitch before he tried an expansive drive off Darren Sammy but Chris Gayle standing wide of first slip took a fantastic one-handed catch diving to his right.
For Karthik, it was an onerous task to rotate strike as Sammy was in the middle of a good spell where he kept things tight. With the ball not coming onto the bat, the two batsmen proceeded on a sedate note during the initial phase.
It was one such occasion when Sharma was prepared to play the waiting game as he got the occasional boundary. One such shot was a lofted drive over extra cover off Best.
The 50 partnership for the third wicket came off 88 balls and just when it looked like that Karthik was getting a hang of the track, he offered a simple return catch to Marlon Samuels to end a 59-run stand.
Sharma, however carried on without much fuss. A deft cut past backward point off Sunil Narine was sheer class and he completed his 16th half-century in limited overs format off 77 balls with a double as the 100 of the team came in the 27th over.
Just when the Mumbaikar was looking good for a big score, he frittered away yet again trying to hoick a length delivery from Sammy only to be holed out at long-off boundary.
Raina and Dhoni mainly dealt in singles although the UP left-hander hit some attractive boundaries as the duo slowly started a recovery act from 124 for four.
They ran some well-judged singles as the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket came off 65 balls.
However Dhoni suffered from cramps in the 43rd over which led to a medical break which must have hampered Raina`s concentration as he edged one to Denesh Ramdin behind the stumps. Raina faced 55 balls and hit four boundaries. With Raina gone and Dhoni injured, the possibility of reaching 250 became out of question.