Off-colour India win battle but lose war

Off-colour India win battle but lose war

India beat West Indies for consolation victory

MS Dhoni celebrates with team-mates after dismissing West Indies’ Travis Dowlin on Wednesday. AFPMahendra Singh Dhoni’s men needed Pakistan to defeat Australia if they entertained hopes of surging through to the last four. India did their bit by shooting out the West Indies on another juicy Wanderers strip for 129, but once Australia completed a nail-biting two-wicket win to emerge Group A toppers and join Pakistan in the last four, the final league fixture of the competition on Wednesday had little more than academic value.

India, who cruised to 130 for three and a seven-wicket victory, thus failed to advance beyond the first stage of the Champions Trophy for the third edition in succession.

A stomach infection ruled Sachin Tendulkar out of what could have been a crucial outing, Dinesh Kaarthick taking his place at the top of the order, and the out of sorts Ishant Sharma made way for Abhishek Nayar as India hedged their bets at the toss.

Dhoni had little hesitation in sticking the West Indies in, and the in-form Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar gave the Caribbean top-order a torrid working over. All competition long, Nehra has been India’s stand-out bowler with new ball and old, and presented with a track that had plenty of life in it, the left-arm pacer went all out as he cranked up the pace and got the ball to move around.

Praveen isn’t the fastest, but what he lacks in speed, he more than makes up with swing, both away from and into the right-hander. The Uttar Pradesh medium-pacer delivered the first blow in the first over, completely befuddling Andre Fletcher with a series of out and inswingers before ending his misery by inducing a catch low to Rahul Dravid at first slip.

West Indies had neither the technical expertise nor the steely will and determination to bat through a difficult, demanding phase, and in a further bid to make use of the seamer-friendly conditions, Dhoni handed over wicket-keeping duties to Kaarthick.

The skipper’s seam-up bowling brought him a wicket with his fourth delivery in one-day internationals, Travis Dowlin undone by a tremendous break-backer, but Dhoni and a less than accurate Nayar eased the pressure as Darren Sammy and David Bernard got stuck in. Amit Mishra ended the prickly stand by having Bernard brilliantly caught at slip by Dravid, triggering a slide as Harbhajan Singh came into his own against crease-tied batsmen. India’s chase began poorly as they lost Gautam Gambhir and Dravid before the break, but the industrious, sometimes laborious Kaarthick and the ebullient Virat Kohli put on 92 (150b) for the third wicket. Kohli in particular played some gloriously wristy strokes even as the faster bowlers kept jagging the ball around, one monstrous pull off Bernard the pick as he brought up his second one-day half-century.

Score board

Fletcher c Dravid b Praveen    0
Powell c Dhoni b Nehra    5
(15b, 1x4)
Smith c Dhoni b Nehra    21
(26b, 3x4)
Dowlin b Dhoni    14
(33b, 2x4)
Reifer c Kaarthick b Praveen    1
Bernard c Dravid b Mishra    22
(46b, 1x4)
Sammy c Mishra b Nehra    23
Crandon b Harbhajan    5
(9b, 1x4)
Miller (not out)    17
(23b, 1x4, 1x6)
Roach c Gambhir b Harbhajan    4
Tonge c & b Praveen    5
(6b, 1x4)
Extras (LB-4, W-7, NB-1)    12
Total (all out, 36 overs)    129
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Fletcher), 2-26 (Powell), 3-27 (Smith), 4-31 (Reifer), 5-57 (Dowlin), 6-89 (Bernard), 7-99 (Sammy), 8-102 (Crandon), 9-122 (Roach).
Bowling: Praveen 9-3-22-3 (w-2), Nehra 8-1-31-3 (w-2), Nayar 3-0-17-0 (w-1, nb-1), Dhoni 2-0-14-1 (w-1), Harbhajan 8-2-14-2, Mishra 6-0-27-1 (w-1).
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 30/3; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 13/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 28-32 overs: 22/2.
Kaarthick c Dowlin b Tonge    34
(79b, 4x4)
Gambhir b Roach    6
(5b, 1x4)
Dravid (run out)    4
(2b, 1x4)
Kohli (not out)    79
(104b, 9x4, 2x6)
Nayar (not out)    0
Extras (W-3, NB-4)    7
Total (for 3 wkts, 32.1 overs)    130
Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Gambhir), 2-12 (Dravid), 3-104 (Kaarthick).
Bowling: Roach 6-1-27-1 (nb-3), Tonge 10-0-36-1 (w-1), Sammy 10-1-25-0, Bernard 3-0-22-0 (w-2, nb-1), Miller 3.1-0-20-0.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 34/2; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 18/0; Power Play 3 (batting): Not taken.