Shikhar special floors Windies

India storm into semis with comprehensive win

Shikhar special floors Windies

A sparkling all-round show from India lit up the gloomy London skies as MS Dhoni and company booked their place in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy with a match to spare against Pakistan.

In their second Group B clash here at The Oval against the West Indies, Indians produced another dominant performance to register a comprehensive eight-wicket win to become the first team in the eight-team tournament to enter the last-four stage.

The Indian victory reduced their final league match against Pakistan, who are without a victory after two matches, to an inconsequential one as the winner of the match between South Africa and West Indies, both on one win each, will go through to the semifinals.

After a disciplined bowling show that restricted West Indies to 233/9, India rode on another century stand between their openers – Shikhar Dhawan (102 n.o., 107b, 10x4, 1x6) and Rohit Sharma (52, 56b, 7x4) – to reply with 236/2.

Play was briefly halted in the second session due to a drizzle but even if the play had been stopped at that point in time (with score reading 204/2 in 35.1 overs), India would have emerged comfortable winners as they were 76 runs ahead by Duckworth-Lewis method.

 Ravindra Jadeja (5/36) was India’s star performer with the ball as the 24-year-old bagged his first five-wicket haul in one-day internationals while West Indies owed their eventual total to Johnson Charles’ 55-ball 60 (8x4, 2x6) at the top of the order and Darren Sammy’s furious unbeaten 56 (35b, 5x4, 4x6) towards the end.

Dhawan, lucky to survive at least on one occasion, once again came up with an authoritative show to lead India’s batting charge while Rohit appeared progressively at home in his new position. If Rohit’s strokes off the square and through the covers were a sight for sore eyes, Dhawan’s improvisation while executing his shots was exemplary.

Together they raised 101 runs in less than 16 overs to all but kill the chase. Rohit’s dismissal after a review of the decision for caught-behind, was quickly followed by Virat Kohli’s early departure, but that proved to be nothing more than a storm in a tea cup. 

The match also witnessed DRS being used four times, two each by India and West Indies, with the latter losing their second appeal against Dhawan.

The Delhi opener also brought up his third international hundred, following his scores of 174 (in Test) and 114 against Australia and South Africa. In the process of his second successive ODI ton, which he brought up in style with a six over third man, he added 109 runs for the unbroken third wicket with Dinesh Karthik (51 n.o., 54b, 8x4).        

Jadeja appeared to have India right on top before Darren Sammy’s belligerent unbeaten knock provided West Indies with a sniff of a chance. Jadeja’s regular strikes in his first spell had helped India baulk West Indies’ solid start. Once the left-arm spinner trapped Charles in front with a faster one, the Caribbeans lost the way slipping to 109 for four, his first spell reading an impressive 3/10 from five overs.

Cameos from skipper Dwayne Bravo (25) and Kieron Pollard (32) ensured Windies would end with a respectable total but it was Sammy’s 35-ball 56 that hurt India towards the end. The last two overs leaked 35 runs as West Indies got themselves something on board to defend.

Expectedly, the weather remained gloomy. Dhoni not surprisingly opted to bowl first, having made no changes to the playing 11 which took on South Africa in their opener.

West Indies were forced to make one change, necessitated by the absence of Denesh Ramdin through a two-match suspension. The stumper’s ban, however, proved to be a blessing in disguise for the West Indies as his replacement, Sammy, gave them the much-needed flourish.

At 182 for nine, West Indies looked destined to fold up without completing their quota of overs. Sammy, as if to prove a point, forged a 51-run stand for the unbroken final wicket off just 27 balls with last man Kemar Roach’s contribution being a grand zero! Sammy’s effort, however, proved too little in the end. 

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