World Cup holders India marched into the Champions Trophy semi-finals with an emphatic win over the West Indies on Tuesday that knocked archrivals Pakistan out of the race.
A career-best five-wicket haul by Ravindra Jadeja and a second successive century from Shikhar Dhawan lifted India to an eight-wicket victory at the packed Oval on a grim, overcast day in London.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men, backed by about 22,000 largely Indian supporters at the stadium, restricted the West Indies to 233-9 and then batted fluently to surpass the target in 39.1 overs.
Left-hander Dhawan followed his 114 in the tournament opener against South Africa with an unbeaten 102, reaching his second one-day hundred by smashing Dwayne Bravo for a six over third man.
Dhawan put on 101 for the first wicket with Rohit Sharma (52) and an unbroken 109 for the third with Dinesh Karthik, who made 51 not out.
India’s second successive win in group B ensured them a place in the semi-finals even before their last league match against winless Pakistan in Birmingham on Saturday.
The West Indies and South Africa, who both beat Pakistan, clash in Cardiff tomorrow to determine the second semi-finalist from the group.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja, who finished with 5-36, set up the win with three wickets for five runs to reduce the Windies from 103-1 to 109-4 after India won the toss and elected to field.
“Overall, it was a very good performance,” Dhoni said.
“The West Indies got a great start, they seemed to be heading for 280, but our bowlers did well to restrict them,” he added.
“What is pleasing that our young batsmen have accepted the challenge. Dhawan and Rohit were really good, but it has also helped that we have become a very good fielding side,” he said.
Dhoni, asked about Saturday’s “dead” rubber against Pakistan, said: “I don’t think the Indian team has ever played a dead game. That match is also important to improve in the areas we want to.”
West Indies opener Johnson Charles smashed 60 off 55 balls, but it was a brilliant unbeaten 56 from 35 balls by former captain Darren Sammy towards the end that boosted the total.
Sammy plundered five boundaries and four sixes to lift his side from 182-9, making all the 35 runs from the last two overs as last man Kemar Roach watched from the non-striker’s end without scoring.
“We just did not have enough runs on the board,” West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo said.
“After the start we had, we deserved to get at least 40-50 runs more, but the Indians bowled well and stuck to their plans. Sammy was particularly good for us, but we need to work the ball around and improve our strike-rate,” he added.
“Our next game [against South Africa] is like a final itself. We know it will not be an easy game, but we have the talent to win it,” he said.
India won the initial battle by getting rid of danger man Chris Gayle in the fifth over, caught at slip off Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, after he had scored 21 of the first 25 runs.
The West Indies were without wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, who was handed a two-match ban for claiming a dropped catch during his team’s victory over Pakistan at The Oval on Friday last week.
Sammy replaced Ramdin in the side, while Charles kept wickets.