By Kartik Kannan
India continued their bull run in England with yet another convincing win in the ICC Champions trophy, trouncing West Indies by 8 wickets and 65 balls to spare. The Indian victory, was largely built around Ravindra Jadeja’s spin bowling and the batting of Shikhar Dhawan, both of whom have hit purple patches in 2013, for extended run of great form. Ravindra Jadeja put the brakes on the Caribbean juggernaut, by choking runs and claiming wickets with his fastish off spinners, while Shikhar Dhawan tore into the very attack that had Pakistan at sixes and sevens last week, that had Kemar Roach interestingly this time taking the brunt, giving away 47 of 6 overs. Shikhar Dhawan’s consecutive hundred, was built without a faux paux, in an aggressive counter attack that was largely built around the squares on both sides, including 10 fours and a six to bring up his hundred.
Put into bat, the West Indies found their mojo early on, with Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles being severe on Bhubhaneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav. With 2 boundaries over deep midwicket, and 2 trademark slaps over the bowler, Chris Gayle was slowly getting into ‘RCB’ mode, just when a short of length delivery from Kumar, crapming Gayle for room, lifted enough for Chris to make a meek cut at the ball, only to have Ashwin cling on to sharp chance above his head.
Darren Bravo and Johnson Charles, then steadied the innings with a 78 run stand in 89 balls, with the pace being set by Johnson Charles, after an lull in the early stages of the partnership where he preferred to play of the backfoot watchfully. Johnson exploded with 2 sixes over Long off and Deep Midwicket and managed to work his way around 3 boundaries behind the wicket through glances and late cuts. While he was batting, a stat that was beginning to hang like a Damocles sword over the Indian bowling, was that he had a 100% conversion to scoring a century, whenever he has crossed 50, but Ravindra Jadeja’s introduction changed all of that, when he trapped Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and Sarwan, all of whom fell pray to playing for the turn against fast non turning deliveries. While Charles and Samuels were out leg before, Sarwan, in an attempt to glance the ball, was caught down the leg side. 3 wickets in 14 balls, giving away 5 runs, Jadeja had West Indies on the backfoot.
Even as these wickets well, Darren Bravo, struggled to score runs, and his misery soon came to an end, when he came down the track in frustration to clear Ashwin, and tried checking his shot after being done in by the flight, and Dhoni stumped him to leave West Indies at 140/5 in the 34th over. Pollard and Dwayne Bravo steadied the innings by knocking the ball around, but their wickets at crucial junctures in the game, followed by a couple of tailenders falling left West Indies miserably positioned at 182/9 by the 46th over, for a side that was 100/1 in the 19th over.
They say ‘Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Man’ and Darren Sammy came into playing an aggressive cameo that made you wonder, how could the West Indies have possibly believed he wasn’t good enough for the first game. Sammy, who’s played a large part in the renaissance of the Carribean cricket from the nadirs of 2008/09, chose to announce why he belongs to this team, by putting up his hand up, to clean the mess when it mattered. A flat batted six over covers in between a six to Long off and Long On, just made mouths drop as he successfully managed strike with number 11 (Roach) to bludgeon 9 boundary hits(4 sixes) in a 15 ball exhibition, scoring 52 runs, helping West Indies put a respectable 233, which incidentally is how much South Africa set Pakistan the other day.
Given the way, chases have been funnily difficult, one wondered if India were to fall prey to choking while chasing a moderate target, but India came out with all guns blazing and smoked out the Caribbean pace attack. It was a lively chase that saw Indian openers strangely dominate square off the wicket, with no hits in the arc between covers and deep midwicket, with all of the 17 boundaries scored between Dhawan and Sharma. Virat Kohli, was unlucky to have missed out on the run feast, done in by a Narine special, bowled round the wicket, but Dinesh Karthik made merry of an attack that had by then given up to notch up a fifty, while allowing Dhawan to score his ton around the same time, leading India to a domineering 8 wicket victory, that pushed Pakistan out of the tournament.
[Originally Written for ESPNcricinfo]
- Champions Trophy: Dhawan, Jadeja take India to semi-finals (vancouverdesi.com)
- Shikhar Dhawan 2nd century in ICC Champions Trophy against West Indies (icricketbuzz.com)