PERTH, Australia, CMC – West Indies were badly let down by sloppy batting for the second game in row as their rollercoaster ride at the ICC Cricket World Cup continued with a four-wicket defeat to India here yesterday.
Opting to bat first on a lively WACA pitch, West Indies were bundled out for 182 off 44.2 overs, and then failed to produce the magic needed to defend the meagre total, as India eased to their target off 39.1 overs.
There were some anxious moments up front, however, when fast bowler Jerome Taylor struck twice removing openers Shikhar Dhawan (9) and Rohit Sharma (7), to leave the Indians on 20 for two in the seventh over.
However, captain MS Dhoni held the innings together with an unbeaten 45 off 56 balls while stroke-maker Virat Kohli hit 33 from 36 balls, to ensure there would be no upset.
The right-handed Kohli led the early revival in a 43-run third wicket stand with Ajinkya Rahane (14) before the cool-headed Dhoni anchored a crucial 51-run, seventh wicket partnership with Ravi Ashwin, who finished 16 not out, to see India home.
Taylor finished with two for 33 while fellow pacer Andre Russell picked up two for 43.
Earlier, West Indies floundered badly and needed a top score of 57 from captain Jason Holder to get up to their eventual score.
With his side struggling at 124 for eight in the 36th over, Holder struck four fours and three sixes off 64 deliveries but more importantly, added 51 for the ninth wicket with Taylor (11), which gave West Indies precious runs at the end.
Darren Sammy had earlier chipped in with 26 while Jonathan Carter and Chris Gayle both got 21.
The innings was undermined by seamer Mohammed Shami who finished with three for 35 to claim the Man-of-the-Match while left-arm spinner Ravi Jadeja (2-27) and pacer Umesh Yadav (2-42) supported with two wickets apiece.
With the result, India remained unbeaten in four games and on top Group B with eight points while West Indies slipped to their third defeat in five outings to lie fourth, still on four points, with a single game left against minnows United Arab Emirates in Napier on March 14th.
Looking to turn the page on their horror 257-run defeat to South Africa in their last game, West Indies were allowed no such comfort, and were soon tottering on 35 for four in the tenth over and then 85 for seven in the 25th over.
Not for the first time in the tournament, they suffered a shambolic start, losing their openers cheaply but unlike previous games, their middle order failed to rescue them.
Dwayne Smith’s nightmare form continued when he feathered a catch behind off fast bowler Mohammed Shami, ending a 20-ball labour over six runs with the score on eight in the fifth over.
Vice-captain Marlon Samuels followed for two in the eighth over, run out in an embarrassing mix up, which served to characterise the Windies performance.
Gayle mis-timed a pull off Yadav which fell just short of the diving Mohit at mid-on, and Samuels darted down the wicket only to find his partner ball-watching. An alert Mohit got the ball in quickly to the non-strikers end with Samuels nowhere in sight.
Gayle released his frustration by thumping the next ball over mid-off for four and then clearing the ropes at mid-wicket with the fifth delivery of the over.
However, his flourish proved to be much ado about nothing as he tamely lobbed a pull to Mohit at deep mid-wicket off the last delivery of the next over from Mohammed Shami, to leave West Indies 35 for three.
Denesh Ramdin suffered the indignity of a first ball ‘duck’ when he dragged on an expansive drive at Yadav off the first ball of the next over, the 10th, leaving the Windies virtually crippled.
Carter and Lendl Simmons (9) tried to rescue the innings in a 32-run, fifth wicket stand but struggled to achieve fluency.
Simmons had faced 22 balls and failed to find the boundary when he pulled seamer Mohit to long leg for Yadav to take a simple catch in the 19th over.
Three overs later with runs drying up, Carter top-edged off-spinner Ashwin to deep backward square and Andre Russell (8) smashed the second ball he faced for six before scooping Ravi Jadeja to Kohli at deep mid-off two overs later, off the left-arm spinner’s first ball of the innings.
Two partnerships then rescued West Indies from the embarrassment of a total below 100. Sammy paired with Holder to post 39 for the eighth wicket before Holder took up the mantle with his matured knock in tandem with Taylor for the ninth wicket.
The half-century was Holder’s second consecutive following on from his 56 against the Proteas, but it ended when he holed out down the ground off Jadeja.
Taylor quickly hit back for the Windies, having Dhawan caught at second slip by Sammy in the fifth over and Rohit taken behind by Ramdin in the seventh after probing at a full length delivery which swung late.
Kohli then counted five fours in a positive knock before mis-cuing a pull off Russell to Samuels at deep square leg in the 15th over. It opened up the contest once more and Rahane, Suresh Raina (22) and Jadeja(13) all departed cheaply to leave the game tentatively poised.
The unflappable Dhoni put his head down, however, striking a six and three fours – the last of which was an edge to the third man boundary off off-spinner Samuels which took India over the line.