West Indies stumble to target

With three overs of this match to go, West Indies had it all but sewn up. They needed 17 runs of 18 balls, with seven wickets in hand. At the crease were Runako Morton and Ramnaresh Sarwan, both well set in an unbroken partnership of 85.

Yet West Indies still almost managed to lose the match. The 48th over was where it all started to go wrong. Seven were taken off it, as the batsmen opted to push the ball around for singles rather than smashing boundaries to end it. Ajit Agarkar, bowling at the death with Patel off the field, was able to trap Runako Morton lbw.

West Indies now needed 10 off 2 overs, with Irfan Pathan to bowl the 49th. New batsmen Brian Lara was unable to score off the first two, but smashed the third brilliantly through cover for four. With 6 needed from 9, he went for the maximum off the next ball, but instead of sailing high into the stands, the ball ricocheted onto the stumps of Lara’s bottom edge.

Marlon Samuels failed to score off the next ball, but the final ball of the over brought a run for West Indies and the wicket of Ramnaresh Sarwan. Samuels skied Pathan’s slower ball to midwicket, where Dravid put down a simple catch. As the batsman came back for a second run however, Dravid threw down the stumps leaving Sarwan well short of his ground.

The final over was to be bowled by Agarkar, with five needed from it, four wickets in hand and two news batsmen at the crease. Dwayne Smith tried to heave the first ball out the ground, but only succeeded in getting bowled. The second was perilously close to being a wide, the third dabbed away by Carlton Baugh for a scampered single. After India had gotten themselves back into the match, Agarkar threw it away for them. He served up a short, wide ball outside off, and Samuels helped himself to four runs, and saved West Indies’ blushes.

Before the tense finish, West Indies had got themselves into a winning position. Chris Gayle found runs easily from Irfan Pathan’s bowling, scoring 34 before holing out to cover off Patel. Dwayne Bravo was promoted to number three and played attractively for 16, but Chanderpaul dominated their partnership of 57. The former captain took advantage of wayward bowling from all the seamers bar Patel, and ticking off runs from the spinners, It was Sehwag who ended his innings of 51, a flighted off-break found Chanderpaul’s outside edge.

With Lara not yet batting due to a back problem, Runako Morton joined Sarwan. The two took West Indies to the brink of victory, before the West Indies crumbled within sight of the finish line.

India’s batsman had earlier scored 223, much indebted to 51 from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It was another fairly mediocre performance from India’s middle order. They were starts for plenty of batsmen, but none of them were able to kick on.

Credit must be given to the West Indian bowlers, who kept it tight with the exception of Bravo. Taylor and Bradshaw were particularly impressive both penetrative with the new ball while keeping things tight. They removed Sehwag and Pathan early on, before Dravid shared partnerships of 42 and 61 with Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh respectively.

Yuvraj fell to a poor shot, while excellent fielding from Dwayne Smith ran out Dravid. This left India at 131-5, with a lot of responsibility on the young shoulders of Raina and Dhoni. Raina struggled to score at a good rate, and was smartly stumped by Baugh for 19. Despite his reputation, Dhoni’s 51 only contained three boundaries, and took 65 balls. He did however smash two big sixes off Chris Gayle, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. With boundaries few and far between, it was frantic running which accelerated India’s score to 223, though Dhoni and Agarkar were both run out in the last over.

India 223-9
Mahendra Singh Dhoni 51, Rahul Dravid 49
Ian Bradshaw 3-30, Jerome Taylor 2-33

West Indies 224-7
Ramnaresh Sarwan 53, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 51, Runako Morton 45
Ajit Agarkar 2-52, Munaf Patel 1-29

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