India marches into semifinals with an eight-wicket win; Pakistan eliminated

There was a time when Ravindra Jadeja was lampooned as someone merely fit for a sideshow, someone whose merits as an all-rounder and place in the side were under serious question. Not any longer. Against South Africa last week, Jadeja’s little assault with the bat and his critical run-out of Robin Peterson tipped things India’s way.

At The Oval on Tuesday, Jadeja underlined his increasing value to the team again, ripping the spine out of the West Indies innings with a career-best five for 36. His efforts were matched by an imperious hundred from Shikhar Dhawan as India secured an eight-wicket win to advance to the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy.

Chasing 234, India strolled home as if from a tea party on the neighbour’s terrace, the game put to bed with more than 10 overs to spare.

The outcome eliminated Pakistan from the tournament, while the West Indies and South Africa remain in direct competition for the other slot from Group ‘B’.

India set off at whirlwind pace under grey, misty skies, Rohit Sharma and Dhawan in no mood to hang around. Kemar Roach was unrecognisable from his previous outing on this ground, often bowling short and wide, and Rohit punished him for this indiscipline. He cut him past point on more than one occasion, before a neat drive through the covers.

Dropped catches

Dhawan, put down on 23 by Kieron Pollard and 41 by Roach — the first being a splendid diving effort at point and the second a simple offering at fine leg — didn’t exactly shrink back either; Darren Sammy and Ravi Rampaul copped a couple of boundaries, as did Sunil Narine.

India galloped past 100 inside the 16th over, the contest now looking decidedly dead. Narine snared Rohit for 52 (56b, 7x4), the batsman given out on review, and Virat Kohli for 22 to inject the tiniest unit of life into the game. Dinesh Karthik (51 n.o., 54b, 8x4) and Dhawan (102 n.o., 107b, 10x4, 1x6), though, knit together an untroubled 109-run stand to take their team through.

A drizzle held the game up for 28 minutes, India still 30 runs away from victory, but it made little difference. Upon resumption, Dhawan quickly raised his second century on the trot with a six over third man off Dwayne Bravo, while Karthik completed his fifty with the winning blow.

Charles entertains

Invited to bat after losing the toss on a cloudy morning, the West Indies rode on Johnson Charles’ enterprising 60 and Darren Sammy’s carefree late blitz to cobble together a mediocre total.

As had been feared, Chris Gayle set off in a hurry, swatting Umesh Yadav twice to the leg side fence. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar soon had the measure of him, in what were thoroughly amenable conditions. Gayle eventually slashed at a ball that was close to the body and Ashwin held a high chance well at first slip.

Gayle’s exit for 21 quietened the West Indies, but only momentarily. His opening partner Charles, a fast, young player full of brio, stirred into life in the ninth over, unleashing a flurry of boundaries.

Charles’ combination with Darren Bravo had realised 78 runs for the second wicket when Dhoni introduced Jadeja, steadily turning into India’s undisputed trump card. The left-armer proceeded to take three wickets from his next 14 deliveries to leave the West Indies in ruins.

Charles fell first, leg-before to a quick delivery that came in with the arm. Marlon Samuels was then trapped in front off a similar ball; in Jadeja’s next over, Sarwan edged him behind for one. From that perilous state, the West Indies never recovered. The Bravo cousins — Darren and Dwayne – both managed starts, but left within five overs of each other.

Kieron Pollard, still striving to carve a reputation as a proper batsman rather than some lumbering slogger, clubbed two big sixes off Ashwin, but was removed for 22 by Ishant.

It was left to Darren Sammy to pull the West Indies’ chestnuts out of the fire, with an unbeaten 56 (35b, 5x4, 4x6).

Sammy unfurled his typically thunderous bottom-handed hits, adding 51 (27b) for the last wicket in the company of Kemar Roach (whose own contribution was zero!) to haul his side to 233.