India cut Windies to size

India cut Windies to size

Spinners bamboozle visiting batsmen as hosts level series with a facile win

India cut Windies to size

The erratic nature of their play came back to haunt the West Indies team once again as they inexplicably crumbled from a strong position to hand India a thrilling 48-run victory in the second ODI of the Micromax Cup series at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.

Comfortably placed at 170/3, the Caribbeans were coasting along but then horribly lost the plot as Indian bowlers, led by leg-spinner Amit Mishra (10-2-40-2) and Mohammad Shami, stifled their run chase by taking wickets in bulk. The West Indies lost their last seven wickets for just 45 runs as India levelled the series 1-1.

The finish was anti-climatic and in complete contrast to the solid 64-run start given by the West Indies top order. India's target of 264 runs, after choosing to bat, began to dwarf in the face of the onslaught from openers Dwayne Smith, Darren Bravo and later Kieron Pollard. But Indian bowlers, guilty of being expensive initially, shot back with sharp, wicket-taking spells to turn the tables around.

Smith, driving effortlessly on both sides of the wickets, was cruising. At 97, he was on the brink of raising his maiden ODI century but Shami struck. Smith, looking to flick, missed as the ball swung late and crashed onto his off-stump. The collapse had begun.

Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin, the architects of their mammoth victory in Kochi, as well as former captain Darren Sammy were back in the dressing room in no time.
Samuels, ill at ease against Mishra, slammed straight to Kohli at point and Ramdin edged a low catch to Suresh Raina at slip.

After that, it was just a matter of time before the flabbergasted visitors folded up to provide an enthralling finish for the Indians. As Ravi Rampaul top-edged a pull, and Shami ran to pouch the ball, the Kotla crowd rose to its feet.

It finally turned out to be good day for the hosts who were under pressure after their shocking loss in Kochi. The century stand (105 runs) between Kohli and Raina revived their floundering start with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni providing the late thrust with an unbeaten 51 off 40 balls. 

The good news for India was that their star batman Kohli finally put an end to his parched streak with a well-paced 62. The slowness of the pitch didn’t affect his timing and he negotiated the low bounce with calm confidence, be it the late cut off Sulieman Benn for his first boundary or the two consecutive flicks where he had to nearly stoop to hit. Both came off the miserly Taylor.

At the familiar environs of Kotla, Kohli squeezed out the gaps, relying on placement rather than stroke-making.  The pair that led him to his first half century in both one-day and Tests since February brought a broad smile on the face of the 25-year-old.

It was not a typical Kohli knock but the one he desperately needed, even at the cost of sacrificing his favoured No.3 spot. The move helped. Ambati Rayudu, replacing him, did a good job of handling the new ball after Shikhar Dhawan’s maiden international stint on his home ground ended early in the second over of the match.

But the swift departures of Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane once again put India precariously at 74/3.

Raina and Kohli calmed the nerves. Raina pushed the scoring with delectable drives on offside while also soaring Rampaul over extra-cover for his second six to bring up the 100-run partnership with Kohli.

But Taylor separated the two.  Raina, looking to hit him on the on-side, ended up holing out to a backward sprinting Pollard to long- off.  Kohli's stay was ended by a spectacular catch by Samuels who leapt to grab the ball at long-off before showing it to the crowd.
But Dhoni, the finisher, pressed with on determination by clobbering the death bowling and putting up a fighting total. India can now go to Visakhapatnam with an eye on taking the lead.