The Nehru Stadium is quite the smouldering furnace at the best of times. The proposition sounds all the more painful had the first ODI of the five-match series on Wednesday been a no-show.
After the weather played true, reports emerged that the West Indies team might boycott the match following a pay-dispute. Fortunately for thousands of frenzied fans and other stakeholders, the game went ahead as scheduled.
West Indies, quite admirably, extinguished the flames of negativity and produced a solid, professional performance to wallop India by 124 runs.
After being invited to bat by Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni, the Windies rolled up their sleeves to rack up 321, the highest score on this ground. The team then proceeded to assiduously unhinge the Indian batting core. India was bowled out for 197.
Unlike India’s chase, which was panic-stricken, the visitor’s innings much resembled a dhrupad in how the relaxed harmony at the beginning gradually lapsed into an accelerated thrust.
The purveyors-in-chief of such style were Marlon Samuels (126 n.o., 116b, 11x4, 4x6) and Denesh Ramdin (61, 59b), both of whom coolly raked in 165 runs off 139 balls for the fourth wicket, and set up a fabulous base for the West Indies.
Samuels also rewarded himself with two wickets to make it a doubly-fulfilling comeback. More on him later.
Needless run out As for India’s nervy batting, it was best exemplified by the needless run out of Ajinkya Rahane. After patting one between short-fine and square-leg, Rahane hared back for the second run. Shikhar Dhawan, after making a start, had a change of heart and turned the other way.
Before that bit of tragicomedy, the opening pair had negotiated a tight opening spell from Ravi Rampaul and Jerome Taylor.
Bowling coach Curtly Ambrose’s animated discourse to his charges before the chase seemed to have elicited the intended response.
It didn’t take much time for Rahane to find his touch as he unpacked his delicious fare of tucks and pulls. Just when Dhawan joined in, Rahane was gone.
Not long after, Virat Kohli came and went. What would likely perturb Kohli is his exit was identical to the manner of his dismissals in England — the angled-bat off the back-foot to a delivery that holds its line, resulting in an edge. The crippling blow was delivered when Suresh Raina’s furniture was tampered with, skipper Dwayne Bravo the perpetrator.
Dhoni, as it happens to him every once in a while, laboured but didn’t last long enough to even out the slow start. Dhawan, recovering well from Rahane’s run-out, was excised by Samuels. There wasn’t much gas left in India’s tank thereafter.
Earlier, Samuels and Ramdin’s approaches weren’t dissimilar; an equal desire to meld counter-punching with canny-play was visible. An ultra-quick outfield made their task easier.
While they ensured run-flow wasn’t stymied after Darren Bravo departed, a definite sense of the innings hitting the next gear came through after the 30th over when Samuels cracked two sixes off successive Amit Mishra deliveries.
Playing his first ODI since March, the 33-year-old deposited Suresh Raina’s placid off-break for a six to bring up his 50 and breach the 4,000-run mark.
He got to his sixth hundred with a scampered single and let out a pressure-venting roar. With a high back-lift and scant trigger-movement, Samuels frequently favoured the clear-the-leg-and-whack method against India’s seamers.
Ramdin, meanwhile, showed the traits of a form-player — his last three ODI scores read 74, 34, and 169 — and dealt in drilled drives and furious slaps.
He batted with spunk, the kind that doughty ’keepers take pride in.
West Indies: Dwayne Smith b Jadeja 46 (45b, 4x4, 2x6), Dwayne Bravo c Dhawan b Shami 17 (24b, 4x4), Darren Bravo c Dhawan b Mishra 28 (45b, 2x4, 1x6), Marlon Samuels (not out) 126 (116b, 11x4, 4x6), Denesh Ramdin c Jadeja b Shami 61 (59b, 5x4, 2x6), Kieron Pollard b Shami 2 (4b), Andre Russell c Kohli b Shami 1 (2b), Darren Sammy (not out) 10 (6b, 1x6); Extras (b-7, lb-5, w-17, nb-1): 30; Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs): 321.
Fall of wickets: 1-34 (Dwayne Bravo), 2-98 (Smith), 3-120 (Darren Bravo), 4-285 (Ramdin), 5-296 (Pollard), 6-298 (Russell).
India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 10-1-38-0, Mohit 9-0-61-0, Shami 9-1-66-4, Jadeja 10-0-58-1, Mishra 10-0-72-1, Raina 2-0-14-0.
India: A. Rahane run out 24 (22b, 4x4), S. Dhawan b Samuels 68 (92b, 9x4), V. Kohli c Sammy b Taylor 2 (5b), A. Rayudu c Benn b Russell 13 (21b, 1x4), S. Raina b Dwayne Bravo 0 (2b), M.S. Dhoni b Sammy 8 (21b), R. Jadeja (not out) 33 (36b, 2x4, 1x6), Bhuvneshwar Kumar c Sammy b Samuels 2 (10b), A. Mishra lbw b Dwayne Bravo 5 (13b, 1x4), Mohit Sharma c Taylor b Rampaul 8 (7b, 2x4), Mohd. Shami b Rampaul 19 (17b, 2x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-1, w-14): 15; Total (in 41 overs): 197.
Fall of wickets: 1-49 (Rahane), 2-55 (Kohli), 3-82 (Rayudu), 4-83 (Raina), 5-114 (Dhoni), 6-134 (Dhawan), 7-138 (Bhuvneshwar), 8-146 (Mishra), 9-155 (Mohit).
West Indies bowling: Rampaul 8-0-48-2, Taylor 10-1-50-1, Dwayne Bravo 6-0-28-2, Russell 4-0-21-1, Benn 5-0-16-0, Sammy 5-0-23-1, Samuels 3-0-10-2.