Effective spin bowling and indiscreet shot selection in the second half of the game combined to give India an ultimately comfortable 93-run victory over Windies in a low-scoring third One-Day International of the five-match series at Sir Vivian Richards International Stadium on Friday (June 30).
Set a target of 252 in North Sound, Antigua to prevent India taking an unbeatable 2-0 series lead, Windies were on course with Jason Mohammed and Rovman Powell in full flow in a 54-run sixth-wicket partnership after Hardik Pandya had struck a couple of early blows.
But then Kuldeep Yadav and R Ashwin swung the match decisively in India’s favour. From a promising position of 141 for 5 in the 33rd over, Windies crashed to 158 all out within the next five overs. Yadav and Ashwin took three wickets each in engineering the capitulation that was finished off by Kedar Jadhav as he yorked last man Kesrick Williams with his first ball of the match.
Powell had looked dangerous in getting to 30 before a top-edged sweep off Yadav resulted in the pivotal dismissal via a catch at deep backward square leg. Mohammed, who top-scored with 40, also fell to Yadav, trapped lbw to effectively end the contest.
Earlier, it was Jadhav who triggered a late run explosion in partnership with MS Dhoni as India reached 251 for 4 batting first on a sluggish pitch affected by prolonged, torrential rains the day before.
Dhoni top-scored with an unbeaten 78 off 79 balls and was named Man of the Match, but the real impetus came from Jadhav, who blazed 40 off 26 balls in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 81 runs off just 46 deliveries.
Ajinkya Rahane held the innings together after the loss of early wickets, extending his excellent run of form in the series with 72, his third consecutive half-century.
“I thought the pitch got easier for batting as the day went along so I was really pleased with the fight we showed towards the end of our innings and then from our bowlers,” said Virat Kohli after the win. “We may now be looking at giving some of our other players in the squad an opportunity to show how they can perform in these conditions.”
Comprehensively beaten by 105 runs in the second match in Trinidad five days earlier following a rain-ruined no-result to start the series, Windies took early advantage of the pitch conditions. Miguel Cummins removed Shikhar Dhawan in just the third over while Jason Holder justified his decision to field on winning the toss when he claimed the prized scalp of Kohli, who was brilliantly caught by debutant Kyle Hope at gully.
Rahane found a reliable partner in Yuvraj Singh, the pair putting on 66 for the third wicket before Devendra Bishoo trapped Yuvraj lbw for 39.
Dhoni then joined Rahane in a crucial important stand of 70, though both found the spinners especially hard to get away on the turgid surface.
“Our batting has been performing so well for the last year and a half that I haven’t had too many opportunities to spend time in the middle in ODIs so this was very satisfying,” said Dhoni. “I am continuing to enjoy my cricket and it’s good to see the hunger and desire from all the players.”
It was the arrival of Jadhav at the crease in the 43rd over, when Rahane became Cummins’s second wicket of the innings, that shot the score upward.
“We started well with the ball but let things get away from us towards the end of their innings,” rued Holder. “Yet again the batting didn’t deliver and that continues to be a problem.”
Windies need to win the fourth match at the same venue on Sunday to have a chance of squaring the series going into the final match on July 6 at Sabina Park in Kingston.