Champions Trophy: India cruise to victory over West Indies by eight wickets

India (236 for two) beat West Indies (234 for nine) by eight wickets

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The Independent Online

The last time India played in England, they failed to win a single one of 10 international matches. Two years later, they have done so twice in six days, with an authority and verve that will make them fierce opponents in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.

If India have hitherto been the tournament’s outstanding team, Shikhar Dhawan and Ravi Jadeja have been two of its best performers. Dhawan, playing in only his seventh one-day international, completed his second consecutive century, adding 102 not out here to the 114 he made in last Friday’s victory over South Africa. This time, he reached the milestone with a six, lofted over the point boundary off Dwayne Bravo. Jadeja’s five for 36, his one-day best for India, created the stage for Dhawan.

So dominant were India that Dhawan could afford to leave alone his final five deliveries from Bravo, allowing Dinesh Karthik to seal the deal by completing his fifty from the first ball of the next over.

These results guarantee India’s place in the last four, with a game to spare. That match will be against Pakistan, their great rivals, at Edgbaston on Saturday. India’s dismantling of West Indies here ensured Pakistan’s elimination, the perfect scenario for their supporters.

Chasing 234 to win, India’s batting was explosive in the early overs and serene as they closed on their target, reached with 10.5 overs to spare.

Were it not for Darren Sammy’s unbeaten 56 from 35 deliveries, West Indies would probably not have reached 200. Yet in the 20th over they had been 103 for one and a total approaching 300 looked possible, Chris Gayle’s early demise for 21 notwithstanding.

Their batting difficulties thereafter were brought about principally by Jadeja. Jadeja is a workmanlike left-arm spinner but he had three wickets for five runs after his first four overs. Later, Ravi Rampaul was bowled attempting a slog-sweep and Jadeja had his first five-wicket haul for India in limited-overs cricket.

Jadeja’s first victim was Johnson Charles, lbw for 60 and in his absence, West Indies’ lost their rhythm. Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Sunil Narine also fell to Jadeja and when Rampaul was out, West Indies were 182 for nine, before Sammy’s wonderful fifty, containing four sixes and five fours, drove the total above 200.

It was important innings from Sammy, replaced as captain in this format by Dwayne Bravo, and in the side only because of wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin’s suspension.

Ramdin decided not to appeal against the two-match ban, supplemented by the loss of his match fee, handed to him by the ICC for claiming a catch he appeared to have grounded in last Friday’s defeat of Pakistan.

Charles kept wicket competently in his first international match with the gloves; West Indies’ bowlers did not reach a similar standard. Kemar Roach was ferocious against Pakistan but he conceded 32 runs from his opening four-over spell, during which Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were merciless, especially when playing the cut shot.

Roach then put down a simple catch at fine leg with Dhawan on 41. It was the opener’s second narrow squeak, as Kieron Pollard had just failed with a one-handed attempt at backward point when Dhawan had 24.

It mattered as little as West Indies’ two wickets. Charles was alert to catch Sharma for 52 down the leg side, and then Virat Kohli was bowled off an inside edge, giving Sunil Narine his second victim, but these were mere details.

India have stamped their mark on this tournament. If West Indies cannot improve against South Africa on Friday, they will be departing it.