London: India on Tuesday stormed into the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament with a resounding eight-wicket victory over West Indies, riding on Shikhar Dhawan`s second consecutive ODI century.
The Indians first restricted the Caribbeans to 233 for nine as Ravindra Jadeja (5/36) ripped through the middle-order as Dhawan yet again took centrestage with dazzling strokeplay to give India its second win in as many matches in group B.
The 27-year-old Delhi boy, who made a spectacular Test debut against Australia with a knock of 187, had scored a match-winning 114 against South Africa in the tournament opener.
The stylish left-hander yet again sizzled at the Oval as his unbeaten knock of 102 helped the `Men In Blue` chase down a target with 65 balls to spare. Dhawan smashed 10 fours and a six in the process.
The three-figure mark was achieved with a slashed six off Dwayne Bravo over backward point and then played dot balls to allow his partner Dinesh Karthik (50 no) to complete his well-deserved half-century.
Dhawan is enjoying a golden period in international cricket as his three knocks since comeback into Indian team has been centuries (187, 114, 102 no).
India thus made it to the last four of the Champions Trophy after a gap of 11 years with the last time being way back in 2002.
The opening pair is turning out to be a smash hit in the tournament as yet again Dhawan and Rohit Sharma added 101 in only 15.3 overs to lay the foundation of a comfortable victory.
Rohit, who is revelling in the role of an opener again scored a half-century. Rohit`s 52 came off 56 balls with seven boundaries. While Virat Kohli (22) couldn`t cash in, Karthik who hit eight boundaries in his 54-ball knock proved to be an able ally as they added 109 runs for the undefeated 3rd wicket stand in 19.1 overs.
India will now play Pakistan in Birmingham on June 15.
The West Indian attack looked loose and stingless on a placid wicket. West Indies pace spearhead Kemar Roach turned out to be the biggest disappointment. Erring in line and length, he let the Indian batsmen free their arms, conceding almost eight runs an over.
Sharma and Dhawan paced their innings to a nicety. They ran hard and knew the value of patience. And as the West Indian pacers gave them width, the batsmen plundered runs with strokes square of the wicket. Most of Sharma`s seven boundaries pierced the gap between point and extra-cover.
India scored at a slightly better pace than the West Indians. The first 10 overs produced 66 runs with almost equal contribution from the openers but Sharma broke free getting to his 50 first off 52 balls.
India lost their first wicket when Sharma was out for 52 in the 16th over. The TV umpire overturned the on-field umpire`s decision after West Indies successfully reviewed an appeal for caught behind against Sharma. Hotspot revealed a faint nick and Sunil Narine finally broke the opening stand.
Playing his 100th ODI, Virat Kohli arrived to the crease with aggressive intent. First ball, he delicately cut Narine to the third-man fence.
With the light worsening and a little drizzle sweeping the stadium, Kohli played a timely cameo to always keep India ahead on the run-rate. Narine got his pound of flesh when he bowled Kohli for an 18-ball 22, the batsman playing across the line of a ball that kept straight after pitching.
Dinesh Karthik had a mild scare when Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar ruled him out caught behind off Ravi Rampaul but the Decision Review System came to his rescue. There was a big gap when the ball beat the bat. As hotspot revealed, the umpire was mistake by a `sound`, probably the bat hitting the pad.
There were no hiccups for India thereafter. Dhawan and Karthik (51 not out) quietly went from strength to strength as the duo posted an unbeaten 109-run third-wicket stand to steer India to the shores of victory.
A brief rain interruption in the 36th over (India 204 for two wickets) did not matter because according to Duckworth-Lewis, India were a good 76 runs ahead at that stage.
The match, however, resumed after a 28-minute delay and the India duo knocked off the required runs without much ado on a slippery and fast outfield.
Dhawan was the toast of the Indian batting. He lived life to the fullest after being dropped by Kieron Pollard and Roach on 23 and 42, respectively. While Pollard`s catch at point was a difficult one, Roach dropped a sitter at fine leg off Dwayne Bravo’s bowling.
Those blemishes asides, Dhawan carried on from where he had left at Cardiff.
String on both sides of the wicket, Dhawan punished the loose balls, much to the hurrah of the packed Indian crowd who chanted "Jai Ho" and "Chak De" every time the ball went past the ropes. He scored his 100, cutting Bravo for a six at backward point.
Earlier on a cloudy day, man-of-the-match Jadeja`s maiden five-wicket haul broke the back of the West Indies batting. Only a late charge by Darren Sammy (56 not out off 35 balls) lifted the West Indians past the 200-mark.
Jadeja picked up three West Indian wickets in a space of 14 balls on a cloudy morning which proved to the turning point of the innings. The wicket of Johnson Charles, LBW to the Jadeja after scoring a classy 60, opened the floodgates as West Indies slid from 103 for two to 109 for four wickets.
Given the overcast conditions, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to field after winning the toss on an Oval track that was used for the low-scoring Pakistan versus West Indies game on Friday.
But only Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled the right length from the Pavilion End with the new ball. Umesh Yadav, from the Vauxhall End, was expensive conceding 11 in his first over and was promptly taken off.
The West Indian openers looked to be settling down quickly as Chris Gayle scored three lovely boundaries, including a couple of exquisite ones off Yadav at mid-wicket.
On Monday, Dhoni had marked out the left-handed Jamaican as the dangerman in the West Indian camp and it was Bhuvneshwar, who answered his captain’s call for an early breakthrough.
Gayle was the first to go, chasing an angling Bhuvneshwar delivery outside off-stump. The healthy edge was brilliantly taken by the tall Ravichandran Ashwin at first slip. Gayle scored 21 off 18 balls and hit four boundaries.
Charles, who has scored two centuries in his first 12 ODIs after making his debut in 2012, looked to be in promising touch.
The right-handed 24-year-old from Windward Islands took time to settle down but once he gauged the pace of the wicket, scored freely. He struck five boundaries off seven balls, three of these coming off successive Yadav deliveries.
Charles` 78-run partnership with Darren Bravo kept the pressure on Dhoni, who rotated his bowlers and even introduced the part-time medium pace of Virat Kohli in the 13th over.
But it was Jadeja`s introduction from the Vauxhall End that spun West Indies` doom.
After enjoying a life at 32, when Ashwin missed a difficult caught and bowled chance, Charles was finally out leg before to Jadeja for a 55-ball 60 with eight fours and two sixes. Charles played back and across to an arm ball that kept slightly low.
Jadeja`s next scalp was the in-form Samuels, who scored just 1 run. The Indians successfully saw their appeal for an lbw upheld after a review by the TV umpire.
Ramnaresh Sarwan continued his poor run as he nicked trying to glance a Jadeja ball pitched just wide of leg stump. Dhoni held a smart catch. Sarwan has scored 2 runs in as many games.
An act of indiscretion cost the patient Darren Bravo his wicket. He should have been the one to hold the innings together till the last but he danced down the wicket to Ashwin, got beaten by turn and Dhoni did the rest. The Lara-bat alike scored 35 off 83 balls.
The sixth-wicket partnership between skipper Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard threatened to take the game away from India. Both batsmen, adept in the art of stroke making, adopted some Indian Premier League strategy. Pollard’s first two scoring shots were sixes off Ashwin. But this belligerence was too good to last.
Dwayne Bravo and Pollard fell to big strokes after putting on 23 off 28 balls. Bravo (25 off 40 balls) was caught at deep square leg, pulling a Yadav ball right into the hands of Jadeja. Pollard tried to muscle a fuller ball from Ishant but could not cross Bhuvneshwar at long on. Pollard managed 22 off 32 balls.
Sammy missed support from the tailenders. Narine and Rampaul gifted their wickets cheaply. Sammy tried his best, once plundering 21 runs off Ishant’s 10th over. It got West Indies very close to the average first innings total at The Oval, 243.