India win thrilling runfest

There are some games, when a player plays what could well be the innings of his life yet still ends up on the losing side. Today was one of those occasions.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the unfortunate man today, as his unbeaten 149 was not enough for West Indies to triumph in a high scoring encounter. He led their spirited chase of 338 right from the front, carrying his bat through the innings.

As one would expect, they attacked from ball one. He added 80 in just 12 overs to get the innings started, with fellow opener Chris Gayle. Gayle was the dominant force in this partnership scoring 52. Given room to free his arms, the ball was continually slapped away both sides of the wicket, before succumbing to Harbhajan Singh with Rahul Dravid delaying the Power Play. Singh soon picked up another scalp; Runako Morton failed to get going and was bowled.

India did a decent job of tying the West Indies down in the middle overs. Chanderpaul’s partnership of 73 with Marlon Samuels took 17 overs, and the run rate required began to rise. It was close to double figures when Samuels perished for 40, bowled by Zaheer Khan.

In came Brian Lara then though, and with he and Chanderpaul there was still plenty of hope for West Indies. Indeed they added 66 in 44 balls, both realising they need to get on with it. Lara looked in good touch for his 31, but stumped off the bowling of Sachin Tendulkar, attempting to smash his third six.

Although with just the lower order for company, Chanderpaul still managed to keep West Indies in the hunt. He began to find the boundary more often and still managed to find the energy to scamper twos. He was also helped by some poor Indian fielding; he was dropped by Sreesanth, and a simple run out chance turn into an overthrow.

In the end though, the required rate was just too much, and just five of the required twenty were taken off the last over, giving India a 14-run win.

Before Chanderpaul’s heroics, India had amassed a formidable 338. They got off to an excellent start, with 144 added for the first wicket. Gautam Gambhir and Sourav Ganguly helped themselves to plenty of boundaries as the West Indians struggled to find their lines.

Ganguly’s was the more significant innings though. After an absence of 15 months from the ODI side, he scored a marvellous 98 before being cruelly run out. He slashed through the off side consistently, and spanked the spinners straight back over their heads. The two openers and Sachin Tendulkar with 31 had got India into a strong position to accelerate from.

And accelerate they did. Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni added 119 in less than 12 overs, including 71 off the last five. Dhoni played as he does best, teeing off to anything of a good length. He was all power and flailing arms for his 62 from 42 balls. Dravid was equally if not more impressive. Without the raw power of Dhoni, he raced to 54 from 35 balls. He hit three seemingly effortless sixes, and added a few sweetly timed boundaries.

India 338-3
Sourav Ganguly 98, Gautam Gambhir 69*, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 62*
Chris Gayle 2-51

West Indies 324-8
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 149*, Chris Gayle 52
Zaheer Khan 2-48, Harbhajan Singh 2-59

India win by 14 runs

Cricket Web Man of the Match: Shivnarine Chanderpaul

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