BANGALORE – Barbados’ Jonathan Carter played the innings of his blossoming career as he led West Indies A to a convincing 55-run victory over a strong India A in the second unofficial ODI in Bangalore today.
With the senior West Indies team set to tour India and New Zealand later in the year, Carter made a strong case for his inclusion with a glittering century that together with the bowling of compatriot Miguel Cummins, led West Indies A to series-equalling victory after losing the first match of the series on Sunday.
Put in to bat, West Indies posted a total of 279 for 6 thanks to Carter, who made India pay for putting down a simple chance when he was on 6, by going on to score a brilliant 133 off 132 balls studded with 18 boundaries and three sixes. In reply, India A kept losing wickets at regular intervals and ended up being bowled out for 224. Yuvraj Singh (40) was the highest scorer while Cummins ended up with figures of 4 for 31 from his 10 overs.
Chasing a competitive target, the Indian openers, Robin Uthappa and Unmukt Chand, did not find too many boundary-scoring opportunities early in the innings. The West Indian new-ball bowlers Cummins and Andre Russell employed tight lines and did not give the India A batsmen any room, which meant that Uthappa and Unmukt could only manage 15 runs in the first five overs.
The first breakthrough for West Indies A came when the centurion of the first innings was brought on as first change in the sixth over and he got Uthappa to play on to the stumps to depart on 10. This was the second successive failure for the the out-of-favour India batsman in this series. More success was in store for West Indies as Mandeep Singh’s outing turned out to be a short one. The right-hander, who scored a fine half-century in the first match, had to depart on 3 after he edged Cummins to keeper Devon Thomas.
Unmukt was not having a comfortable time as the youngster was late on his shot on several occasions, not being able to handle the pace. The India Under-19 World Cup winning captain broke free with a six and a four off a couple of short deliveries bowled by Carter although the one which went past the fence was also a mistimed shot. Yuvraj, who scored a fabulous ton in the first game, was also slightly watchful at the start of his innings, taking his time to settle down after scoring a six off Russell. The India A captain did not take too long to find the boundaries though as he got into the groove with a couple of sweetly-timed fours off Permaul after the third wicket pair had brought up the half-century stand. However, the partnership could not prosper for long, as Unmukt lost his composure, attempting a big shot off Ashley Nurse only to find Fletcher at long on to head back on 38 off 72.
Unmukt’s departure brought Kedar Jadhav to the crease and he assisted Yuvraj in building a good stand as they helped India A past the 100-mark in the 26th over. Yuvraj was looking set for another big knock but much to the horror of the fairly large crowd present at the Chinnaswamy stadium, the left-hander failed to keep a drive off Nikita Miller down and had to depart for 40 in the 28th over. His innings, which lasted for 58 deliveries, included 3 fours and a six. The left-arm spinner delivered another breakthrough in the same over, getting rid of Yusuf Pathan for zero. The hard-hitting right-hander, who had scored a half-century in the first match, fell in a tame manner, edging to Nurse at first slip.
Even though the spectators started leaving the ground after the twin dismissals, all hope was still not lost for the home team with the presence of the last recognised pair – Jadhav and Naman Ojha. They started the rebuilding process by putting on a good stand, rotating the strike well while scoring timely boundaries. But this partnership too did not last as long as India A would have liked. Jadhav (35), trying to cut a Cummins delivery that was a bit close to him, edged it to the keeper to give the bowler his second wicket. Ojha (34) tried his best to fight it out, but he too fell to Cummins and the bowler went on to dismiss Vinay Kumar to pick up his maiden four-wicket haul in List-A cricket. Sumit Narwal, who had added 29 runs for the 7th wicket with Ojha, became Andre Russel’s first scalp of the match. Nadeem and Unadkat prevented a humiliating loss by managing some boundaries to help India cross 200 and the last wicket pair put on the second highest stand (37) before Carter became the one to finish it off by dismissing Unadkat for 15.
Earlier, the India A new ball bowlers Unadkat and Narwal started off with back-to-back maiden overs before Fletcher, promoted up the order, scored a few boundaries. However, the bowlers were getting a lot of assistance and with the ball moving both ways, the play-and-misses were a regular feature. Soon, India A reaped the rewards for persisting with a good line – Vinay bowled a fine delivery that moved away late from the left-handed Kieran Powell, who ended up outside-edging it to the keeper Ojha to depart on 4. The Karnataka-born bowler then went on to pick up the wicket of Fletcher, who tried a big heave after coming down the track, only to edge it to Ojha to depart on 15.
Edwards, who had come in at number three, got going with a string of boundaries while Carter, at the other end, was finding it slightly difficult to get a move on as Nadeem and Unadkat kept him under a tight leash. Nadeem could have had a wicket against his name had it not been for Yusuf who put down a simple chance offered by Carter. The partnership between Edwards and Carter crossed the fifty mark and after the initial struggle, the pair grew in confidence having spent some time at the middle and the scoring-rate was gradually on the rise. The shot-making improved as Carter and Edwards used their feet well against the spinners, be it coming down the track or using the crease to their advantage. The 3rd-wicket stand though came to an abrupt end when Edwards was stumped down the leg-side off Yusuf on 36. Andre Russell, who came in next started off with a couple of monstrous hits off Yusuf. But the off-spinner had the last laugh as the West Indian all-rounder, attempting a third big hit in a row, was caught by Narwal wide of long on.
The onus was on Carter to lead West Indies A to a good total and the left-hander went on to register a fifty after scoring consecutive boundaries off Unadkat. There was a second dropped chance that followed when Johnson was put down by Uthappa off Yusuf in the 34th over when he was on 7. The fifty-run partnership between Carter and Johnson came during the batting power-play, even as India A missed another chance to send back a West Indies A batsman with Unmukt, missing an opportunity to run-out Carter when the batsman was on 66. The 36-40 over period was profitable for the Caribbean side, which scored 36 runs off the five overs.
Indian bowlers have always had a problem containing the batsmen in the death overs and it was no different in this game. Carter powered WI A past the 200 mark with a couple of fours off Unadkat before bringing up the 100-run stand with a big six off Narwal in the 44th over that took him one short of his maiden List-A ton. The crowd gathered at the Chinnaswamy stadium soon got up from their seats, applauding the 25-year-old Barbadian who reached the three-figure mark with a single off Narwal. The fifth wicket stand worth 131 runs finally came to an end when Johnson (39), attempting a big hit, failed to clear Unmukt at long-off, to give Vinay his third wicket. Carter, now attacking everything, could not stay until the end as he was out leg-before in the penultimate over to Unadkat. Nurse and Thomas then managed a few boundaries to help the visiting side finish with a more-than-respectable total.