KOCHI – Marlon Samuels stroked a sublime, unbeaten century as West Indies temporarily cast aside their wrangle with their players’ union to crush India by 124 runs in the opening One-Day International at the Nehru Stadium today.
Uncertainty surrounded the staging of the contest after it emerged yesterday that the Caribbean side were unwilling to take the field in protest over the terms of the recently signed Collective Bargaining Agreement between the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players’ Association.
But after shelving strike plans, the Windies showed no signs of disinterest or lethargy as they rattled up an imposing 321 for six off their 50 overs, with Samuels marching his way to an imperious 126 – his sixth ODI hundred.
Recalled for this tour after being dropped for the recent Bangladesh series, the right-hander spanked 11 fours and four sixes and posted 165 for the fourth wicket with Denesh Ramdin who hit 61 off 59 balls.
Opener Dwayne Smith stroked 46 from 45 deliveries before gifting his wicket while stylish left-hander Darren Bravo weighed in with 28. Seamer Mohammed Shami picked up four for 66.
In reply, India wasted a start of 49 and then a position of 82 for two in the 15th over, to collapse to a disappointing 197 all out off 41 overs.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan top-scored with 68 while Ravindra Jadeja got 33 not out and Ajinkya Rahane, 24.
Samuels was once again at the centre of the Windies’ success, taking two for ten from three overs – including the key wicket of Dhawan as India slumped to 134 for six in the 19th over.
He was supported by seamers Dwayne Bravo (2-28) and Ravi Rampaul (2-48) who took two wickets each.
Samuels’ excellent all-round efforts earned him the Man-Of-The-Match honour and handed the Windies a crucial 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
With regular opener Lendl Simmons injured, West Indies took the unusual step of opening with captain Dwayne Bravo, an experiment that failed after the all-rounder perished for 17 in the eighth over with the score on 34.
However, Smith and Darren Bravo then put on 64 for the second wicket, with Smith in particular taking a positive approach to the partnership. The right-hander Smith counted four fours and two sixes – both clean hits off left-arm spinner Jadeja.
Smith had just cleared the sight-screen for his second six when he attempted a cross-batted shot off the very next ball, and was bowled in the 18th over.
Darren Bravo, who hit two fours and a six, followed soon afterward when he holed out to mid-off off leg-spinner Amit Mishra to leave West Indies on 120 for three in the 23rd over.
Samuels and Ramdin then took control of the innings to lead a Caribbean onslaught. Samuels started slowly, needing 15 deliveries for his first four runs but slowly got into gear.
He dabbed seamer Mohit Sharma to third man for his first boundary before steering Jadeja behind point for his second, a few overs later.
Having found his touch, he lifted Mishra for two successive sixes – first over long on and then over long off – at the start of the 31st over to move into the 40s and reached his half-century in style with a straight six off part-time off-spinner Suresh Raina.
Samuels bossed India’s bowling, scoring at will and punished both good and bad deliveries. He cruised into the 90s by clearing mid-off with Mohammed Shami for his seventh boundary before reaching three figures with a single in the 45th over.
Ramdin, who hammered five fours and two sixes, eventually holed out to long-on off Mohammed Shami in the 45th, and the right-armer then claimed Kieron Pollard (2) and Andre Russell (1) in his next over, to stall the Windies’ late charge.
But Samuels and Sammy (10 not out) smashed sixes off Mohammed Shami in the last over which cost 15 runs, as West Indies finished strongly.
Dhawan and Rahane gave India a sound start before a terrible mix-up left both batsmen at the keeper’s end in the ninth over.
The dangerous but woefully out-of-form Virat Kohli fell cheaply in the next over for two, edging the fifth ball he faced to Sammy at slip off fast bowler Jerome Taylor, at 55 for two.
Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu (13) attempted to rebuild and had added 27 when Rayudu tugged medium-pacer Russell to Sulieman Benn at mid-on in the 16th over. In-form Raina lasted two balls before he was bowled by Dwayne Bravo off the in-side edge without scoring and India were in strife at 114 for five in the 26th over when Sammy yorked captain MS Dhoni for eight.
Samuels was surprisingly introduced in the 29th over and needed only four deliveries to strike, bowling Dhawan who missed a swing at a delivery on the stumps.
Wickets then continued to fall while the run rate grew, a deadly combination that left India with no way back.