BANGALORE – Barbadian middle-order batsman Kirk Edwards’ run-a-ball 104 proved to be the pivotal innings as West Indies A scored 312 for 9 and defeated India A by 45 runs in the final unofficial ODI last night at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore to win the three match series 2-1.
Edwards stated before the tour he wanted to use the A tour as the means to force his way back into the senior side and his innings went a long way towards that today. What would have helped settle Edwards early was the start provided by the openers captain Kieran Powell and Andre Fletcher. Powell who had struggled to push on in the earlier matches, made a conscious effort to force his way into form, risking his wicket with a few top edges. When Edwards walked in at No. 3 at the fall of Powell’s wicket for 40, he had the cushion of 74 runs made in just over 13 overs. Fletcher, though, would soon return to the pavilion for 28 with the score 79 for 2.
The positive start rubbed off on Jonathan Carter (35) and Leon Johnson (54) as well, who shared stands of 66 and 93 with Edwards. Edwards’ knock was a typical one-day innings – steady building followed by acceleration. He focused on taking singles, and as his fifty approached, had the confidence to waltz down the track to the off-spinner Yusuf Pathan and loft over deep midwicket. He reached the mark with a massive six over long-on.
Edwards took apart the part-timers, cutting the off-spin of Baba Aparajith past the wicketkeeper and short third man for boundaries. Johnson’s more aggressive knock at the other end put West Indies on the path to a big score and after he was dismissed, caught at cover, Edwards took control.
He was helped by questionable field placements by captain Yuvraj Singh after the 40th over. With no Powerplay restrictions, India had as many as five fielders in the ring on the off side, with three in the deep on the leg side. It worked against India as the bowlers repeatedly used length deliveries against the set Edwards, who picked the gaps past point and cover with ease and bludgeoned a six over the clubhouse roof to hasten his progress towards a century.
Siddarth Kaul was punished for 23 in an over, and without any protection in the deep on the offside, Edwards picked him for three consecutive boundaries. He acknowledged his century with a simple raise of the bat and the knock was a confidence-booster ahead of the three unofficial Tests, which he will captain. He was bowled for a run-a-ball 104 off a yorker from Jaydev Unadkat, who took his first List A five-for [5 for 55], though the left-arm seamer was gifted his wickets as the batsmen looked for quick runs. West Indies made 100 runs off the last ten overs and that was enough to shut the hosts out.
Set a daunting 313 to win India A were restricted to 267 for 8 with half-centuries coming from Singh (61) and Aparajith (78).
Robin Uthappa and Aparajith took India A off to a solid start before the former was needlessly run out for a quick-fire 27. Naman Ojha perished without troubling the scorers, caught by wicketkeeper Devon Thomas off fast-bowler Miguel Cummins, the pick of the West Indies bowlers over the three matches.
Singh who announced his return to form with a sensational hundred in the first game of the series and followed it up with a 40 in the second, was in ominous form, starting his innings with a crisp pull to the fence as a reasonable attendance of about 11 000 went into a frenzy. The India A captain had walked in with his side in trouble at 46 for 2 in the 10th over and realised he had to take the initiative.
He was particularly severe on the spinners and punished anything loose severely. At the other end, Aparajith blossomed as the partnership matured and complemented his skipper well. Having been dropped on 40 by Veerasammy Permaul, Yuvraj added insult to injury when he later struck Permaul for a huge six to bring up his half-century. However, just when it looked like he would go on to something special, Ashley Nurse bowled him with an arm ball after he had added 112 with Aparajith.
Aparajith tried to anchor the Indian innings but the 19-year-old was beaten by a quicker delivery on middle and leg from Permaul which disturbed his stumps. The Indian innings imploded thereafter, except a semblance of a fight from Yusuf Pathan, who flattered to deceive with a six and a four. But with the required rate, climbing steeply, he had to take his chances and one risk too many proved fatal as he was castled by Cummins for 18. India A were also a specialist batsman short after Mandeep Singh was ruled out of the rest of the match, having broken a finger earlier during the West Indian innings.