The West Indies have been obliging visitors throughout a two-month tour of England and, in theory at least, they did their hosts another favour last night. Beating India by seven wickets was a real turn up for the World Twenty20 books and it means the tougher of the two Super Eight groups could turn into a real nail-biter.
Paul Collingwood’s team will be right back in the tournament if they can beat India at Lord’s tomorrow – a result which would almost certainly eliminate the holders. But whatever happens, Dwayne Bravo should remember yesterday’s tip-top performance with bat and ball.
The all-rounder was playing the Indian Premier League in South Africa, and supposedly recovering from an injury, while his team-mates were losing two Tests against England in May. Against India, though, he starred by taking four wickets and scoring an unbeaten 66, guiding West Indies over the winning line with eight balls to spare and making them look like genuine contenders for glory.
India and their thousands of supporters looked stunned. And no wonder. With Sachin Tendulkar watching from the sidelines, they totalled a barely competitive 153 for seven from their 20 overs and could have done with the Little Master’s know-how. Instead, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men slipped into trouble at 29 for three and were only partially revived by a 43-ball knock of 67 from Yuvraj Singh.
Tendulkar picks and chooses his tournaments these days. Yuvraj had to be just as selective over which balls to attack once Fidel Edwards had done early damage, aided and abetted by Bravo, whose heroics began when he had Gautam Gambhir brilliantly caught in the deep by Lendl Simmons. Bravo came back later to get among the middle order, but with 72 runs flowing from the last six overs, India finished with a bit of a flourish.
It was not enough, though. Irfan Pathan removed Andre Fletcher for a duck and Chris Gayle eventually miscued a pull against spinner Yusuf Pathan. But Bravo, supported by Simmons and then Shiv Chanderpaul when 54 runs were still needed, never looked like giving it away.
India switched between pace and spin but Bravo kept driving over extra cover before finishing the contest with a soaring six off Zaheer Khan. “It was a superb innings from Dwayne,” said Gayle. “I though their total was gettable and this is a big win for us because we needed to make a good start to this group.”
“We didn’t get off to a good start and did not get enough runs despite a brilliant innings from Yuvraj,” said Dhoni. “It should be an exciting game against England.”
*Sri Lanka shrugged off a batting stutter to open their Super Eight campaign with a comfortable 19-run victory over Pakistan. Despite a stand of 81 in nine overs between openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya, they ended on 150 for seven but that proved enough once Lasith Malinga (3-17) got cracking.