Defending champions India survived a scare to beat the West Indies by four wickets at Perth’s WACA Ground yesterday to remain unbeaten in the World Cup and so secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Set a modest 183 to win by the West Indies in the Pool B match, the Indians made hard work of the run chase before captain Mahendra Singh Doni steered them home.
Dhoni’s calm 45 not out enabled India to make it four wins from four after they looked in real trouble at 134 for six.
The skipper and Ravi Ashwin (16 not out) put on an unbeaten 51 for the seventh wicket, as the unlikely West Indian challenge finally wilted.
Victory kept India on target to claim top spot in the pool, while the West Indies’ last eight hopes are no longer entirely in their own hands after two wins from five matches.
On a lively pitch that offered pace, bounce and movement, the Indians were clearly unsettled by a short-pitched barrage from the West Indies, which wound back the clock to their halcyon days at a venue their great pace attacks relished.
Jerome Taylor (two for 33) sparked the West Indies early on, claiming the wickets of opener Shikhar Dhawan (nine) and Rohit Sharma (seven), while Andre Russell also claimed two for 43.
However, their cause was not helped by conceding 19 wides, nine from Russell’s bowling.
Such a competitive match had seemed highly improbable when the West Indies slumped to 85 for seven as their World Cup rollercoaster continued after they won the toss and elected to bat.
However, a fighting half-century from captain Jason Holder, batting at No. 9, and some shoddy Indian fielding, helped revive the West Indian cause.
It did not look enough, but at least gave the West Indians bowlers a total they could aim to defend.
Holder’s highest score in one-day internationals was just 22 until the West Indies’ previous match against South Africa, but made it consecutive half-centuries with some clean hitting.
He was the last man to fall, caught at long on by Virat Kohli from the bowling of Ravi Jadeja (2-27), having faced 64 balls and hit four fours and three sixes.
Holder’s recovery mission was assisted by India also dropping four catches during the West Indies innings, including two simple chances.
Opener Chris Gayle’s ugly innings of 21 at the top of the order set the tone for a number of the West Indian batsmen, who were seemingly content to gift their opponents cheap dismissals as India’s title defense continued to gather momentum.
Gayle appeared to hold the key to his side posting a big total against India, and there were danger signs when he struggled to get bat on ball early, playing and missing repeatedly against opening bowlers Umesh Yadav (two for 42) and Mohammed Shami (three for 35).
Despite losing partner Dwayne Smith for just six, continuing his lean tournament, Gayle reverted to type when he tried to hit his way out of trouble.
He played a couple of big shots, but was also dropped on the boundary twice in quick succession.
Another near chance ended with the run out of non-striker Marlon Samuels (two), after the big left-hander didn’t respond to his partner’s call for a single.
Gayle’s own luck ran out when he lofted another shot high to the boundary, where Mohit Sharma completed the catch from the bowling of the returning Shami.
His departure left the West Indies reeling at 35 for three and Denesh Ramdin was bowled by Yadav from the very next ball.
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