ODI: Dhoni, spinners set up win in low-scoring match
SUMMARY: India 251 for 4 (Dhoni 78*, Rahane 72) beat West Indies 158 (Ashwin 3-28, Kuldeep 3-41) by 93 runs
Looking at how West Indies struggled in the chase of 310 in Trinidad, you felt they would need a leveller to compete with India. In Antigua, they got a bit of a leveller when they won the toss on a damp pitch – the start was delayed by 45 minutes because of torrential rain a day before the match – and kept India to 251, but their batsmen still fell short by 93.
It was also a leveller that ODI cricket can do with every now and then: slips in place, value on short singles, premium on playing long innings. Reaching the run rate of four only in 43rd over, India’s 251 for 4 was the third-lowest total this decade for a side batting first and losing four wickets or fewer.
Ajinkya Rahane, auditioning for the opener-cum-middle-order reserve role, batted through 42 overs for 72; his strike rate of 64.28 was the second-slowest since 2010 for openers batting first and facing 110 balls.
However, that helped set the base for an MS Dhoni assault, who in Kedar Jadhav’s company, added 81 in the last 7.4 overs to take India well past 220, which might have been about par, considering West Indies’ inexperienced bating. Rahane’s wicket seemed to have come at the right time: Jadhav got 26 balls to smack 40 runs in, and Dhoni matched it with 50 off the last 29 balls he faced.
Devendra Bishoo was again the pick of the bowlers, going for 38 runs for the wicket of Yuvraj Singh and adding a stunning catch to it.
Steady heads was what West Indies needed at the top, but Umesh Yadav broke through the defence of Ewin Lewis in his first over, skidding the ball under his bat from round the wicket.
That brought together brothers Hope, Kyle and Shai, who added 45 for the second wicket before they both fell to bouncers from Hardik Pandya. West Indies continued to misread Kuldeep Yadav, who bowled Roston Chase with a wrong’un, before R Ashwin premiered a new bowling action and struck in his first over.
Ashwin shaped up to bowl a bit like a legspinner would but focused on his offbreaks more than he did in the previous match. In his first over, he had an overbalanced Jason Holder stumped with a wide down the leg side. You can’t be certain if Holder did actually play for a legbreak. You can be certain West Indies were now looking at their last hope: the partnership between Jason Mohammed and Rovman Powell.
Powell played a couple of attractive strokes to go with a couple of streaky ones as the two added 54 together, but India slowed down the pace of the game. Spin came on at both ends, four runs came in 23 balls, and Powell finally tried the big slog to give Kuldeep his second wicket.
Ashwin soon had his second with the trigger-happy Ashley Nurse caught at square leg. West Indies still needed 104 at that point. Only finishing touches were left, which the spinners duly did. (ESPNCricinfo)