KOLKATA – West Indies’ first official dress rehearsal for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup ended in failure today when they were easily beaten by hosts and favourites India by 45-runs at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
India’s classy opening batsman Rohit Sharma put the Windies bowlers to the sword in a blazing unbeaten 98 and then four bowlers picked up two wickets each in the West Indies Innings as Darren Sammy’s side delivered another poor batting display. Opener Chris Gayle top-scored with 20 for the West Indies.
Sharma who bludgeoned nine fours and seven sixes in his 57-ball knock, shared an 89-run stand for the third wicket with Yuvraj Singh (31 off 20) to help India notch up 185 on the board before the bowlers, led by Pawan Negi and Ravindra Jadeja – the two left-arm spinners – bowled West Indies out for 140 inside their quota of 20 overs.
On a flat Eden wicket, one on which the captains – MS Dhoni and Darren Sammy – mutually agreed that India would bat first, the hosts got off to a rather sedate start.
Sharma, as he often does in limited-overs, began in rather tepid fashion. Dhawan was far more assured in an opening stand of 32. The left-hander, fresh from a half-century in the Asia Cup, helped himself to a flurry of well-timed boundaries even as his partner bided his time at the start of the innings. The duo added 32 runs inside five overs before the introduction of left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn accounted for Dhawan (21)
A 20 000-strong crowd at the Eden Gardens rose expectantly at the fall of the first wicket, hoping to catch star batsman Virat Kohli in action but this being a warm-up game, the Indian team management was more concerned about giving their fringe players a run. Ajinkya Rahane walked in at three and attempted to get going straight away, only to be beaten by Benn’s turn and being stumped. Rohit and new batsman Yuvraj Singh steadied the innings and by the halfway mark India reached 62 for 2.
Sharma, who had meandered to 25 off 28 balls, suddenly turned a switch on. The carnage began early in the second half when Ashley Nurse was brought into the attack. The Barbadian off-spinner, called in to replace Sunil Narine, conceded 16, with Sharma peppering the mid-wicket boundary. When Andre Russell came back into the attack in the next over, he was slammed straight back over his head for a six.
Russell followed that with a fuller delivery, Sharma simply walked across his stumps and lapped him over the short-fine fielder. 31 runs came of two overs as India rocketed to 93 in 12 overs with Sharma completing a 37-ball half-century.
Sammy brought himself into the attack in the 13th over and should have had Singh on 7, only for Nurse to grass a straightforward chance at deep mid-wicket. The flamboyant left-hander, unwilling to be left behind by Sharma’s belligerence, then unfurled a succession of powerful drives and a monster straight six before falling for a 20-ball 31. The India innings would eventually close with Sharma two short of a century. Sammy and Nurse conceded 56 runs between them in
West Indies had reason to believe that they could hunt down 185. It was a flat wicket and openers Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles added 26 off the first two overs of the chase bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh. But fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah cleaned Gayle up with a skiddy inswinger in the fourth over, giving India a much-needed opening.
Fast bowler Mohammed Shami then forced Charles to edge one to the keeper after hitting two sixes in 18. The openers added 36 and that would prove to be the highest partnership of the innings as no one got past Gayle’s 20.
Summarised scores: India 185/6 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 98*, Yuvraj Singh 31; Jerome Taylor 2-26) beat West Indies 140 in 19.2 overs (Chris Gayle 20; Pawan Negi 2-15, Ravindra Jadeja 2-26) by 45 runs