WI stage magnificent comeback

The West Indies have staged a magnificent comeback over India in Chennai to keep the four match one-day series alive. Lara and Samuels shone for the West Indies while Robin Uthappa produced an explosive 70 runs off 41 balls in a losing cause for India.

Set 268 by India, a total that could have been far worse if not for the persistence of their bowlers led by Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies got off the worst possible start when Chris Gayle was given out LBW on the very first delivery of the innings. Ajit Agarkar doing the damage for India.

The new batsman in Runako Morton did not last long either, when Agarkar struck again, extracting a nick to the keeper. Morton departing for one run.

However, like they had done all day, the West Indies refused to give up. Brian Lara and Marlon Samuels set about the task of resurrecting the West Indies innings in fine fashion. Lara producing his 50 in 55 balls whilst Samuels had his in 46 as the partnership went well over 100 runs with the Windies looking at an remarkable victory.

Samuels played a beautiful innings, smashing 14 fours and a wonderful six off Ramesh Powar. However in cruel circumstances, as he was approaching his century, Agarkar managed to produce a thick edge to Karthik. After some discussion between the umpires, Samuels was given out on 98, just two away from what would have been a deserved century.

The dismissal ended the stunning Lara-Samuels partnership as well, worth 127 runs. It was a partnership vital in allowing the West Indies to assume a dominant position in the match, only 50 runs away from the target with 15 overs to go and 6 wickets in hand.

There was a slight scare with a few wickets falling late, but the damage had been done with the West Indies emerging victorious by three wickets.

The Indian bowling was poor overall, Sreesanth, Kumble and Powar never looking threatening at any stage. The only respectable bowler for the home side was Agarkar who took 3 wickets for 45 runs in his 10 overs.

Earlier in the day, West Indies captain Brian Lara won the toss and elected to send India in to bat. After an early hiccup, Gautam Gambhir out for a six ball duck, India got off to a flying start led by Indian opener Robin Uthappa.

Uthappa destroyed the West Indies bowlers, as he slammed them to all parts of the ground. In just his fourth match, he started off quickly and gained swift momentum in the seventh over as he smashed three fours in a row. The West Indies bowlers had no solutions for the newcomer when a couple overs later he walloped the ball for another three fours and a six, sending the crowd into a delirium.

West Indies captain Brian Lara searching for a way to contain the young firebrand, threw the ball to the cool hands of Chris Gayle in an attempt to limit the run rate, which was fast approaching 10 an over at this point. He was immediately successful as Uthappa skied his second delivery straight into the air, only to be caught by Simmons at mid-off. Uthappa sent back to pavilion after scoring an amazing 70 off 41 balls.

Tendulkar entered the field and brought up India’s 100 in just the eleventh over. The vice-captain looking for form and a chance to silence his critics was out to score heavily.

However the West Indies bowlers continued to claw their way back into the game as Jerome Taylor had Suresh Raina out for 23 runs after Raina mistimed a drive straight to the waiting Brian Lara.

The two stalwarts of India, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid then began a splendid partnership, trying to steadily build upon Uthappa fireworks earlier in the innings.

Both getting their fifties in consecutive deliveries in the 31st over, India were in cruise control mode at this stage and India were looking set to post a massive total.

However, soon after their hundred run partnership, Gayle again made the breakthrough. Dravid, attempting to whack the ball out of the stadium, was unable to clear the fence as Rayad Emrit took a good catch that saved the six, dismissed the Indian captain for 57 and allowed the West Indies a chance at getting back into the game.

To their credit, the Windies never allowed themselves to be blown out of the water and soon after, their persistence payed off with danger man Tendulkar out for 60, the result of a brilliant catch by Runako Morton at mid-on. The Indian run-rate falling below seven for the first time in nearly 23 overs.

From then on India were unable to capitalise on their fantastic start, the lower order slowed the run rate and wickets began to fall at regular intervals. Eventually India were all out for 268, a score they would have been heavily disappointed in, when earlier in the day they were looking at well over 300.

The West Indies bowlers all played a commendable role. After looking down and out early, they managed to regroup and comeback strongly. Samuels, Gayle and Bravo all bowling superbly to peg back the India onslaught. Bravo clearly the standout, after getting smashed around early on, he returned for a scintillating second spell and finished the innings with 4-39.

India 268
Robin Uthappa 70, Sachin Tendulkar 60, Rahul Dravid 57
Dwayne Bravo 4-39, Jerome Taylor 2-45, Chris Gayle 2-57

West Indies 270/7
Marlon Samuels 98, Brian Lara 83
Ajit Agarkar 3-45

West Indies won by 3 wickets
India lead the series 2-1.

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