INDIA TOUR OF THE ANTILLES, 2022
India kept their composure to claim a three-point victory. ©AFP
A spirited batting effort from Romario Shepherd nearly stunned India in the ODI opener on Friday July 22 before Mohammed Siraj kept his cool to win the contest for the visitors. At one point India thought they had the game in the bag when the last suitable batsman, Brandon King, was let go in 45th place. But Shepherd teamed up with Akeal Hosein to lead an unlikely fightback that saw West Indies come extremely close, before trailing by just three points in a last-ball thriller.
West Indies didn’t have the best of starts chasing 309. Batting stalwart Shai Hope left in the fifth after missing a top edge. Kyle Mayers took charge after the wicket as he kept the Indian bowlers at bay. Shamarh Brooks on the other end faced Shardul Thakur for successive boundaries in the power play final. India felt trouble when Mayers’ onslaught saw him face Axar Patel for a boundary hat-trick as the run rate hovered around six.
After a few tight overs, Mayers finally broke the momentum with a six and four from Yuzvendra Chahal and Brooks followed it up with another six in the next to move into the 40. India found a savior in the form of Thakur who finally ended the century. While trying to shoot, Brooks only managed to mistime a deep square leg. And in his next over, the dangerous Mayers chased a full, wide delivery to push him back towards the keeper. Nicholas Pooran brought the crowd alive with a straight six against Prasidh Krishna, but the fun didn’t last long. His attempt to clear the middle did not materialize when Siraj struck in his new spell.
Rovman Powell was next to go as he nicked a delivery from Chahal just outside to slide it towards the outfielder. With the required rate increasing, the pressure was on Brandon King to step up for the home team. Even though he reached his 50s, he left at a crucial time as he tried to confront Chahal. At this point, the hosts needed 57 to win 33 deliveries. Even though the equation was entirely achievable, India kept the two all-rounders quiet as the equation became 47 out of 24.
Shepherd gave the home dugout some hope by smashing Chahal for a six and picking up another boundary off Siraj in the follow-up. But with 27 to defend from 12 deliveries, India were still the favorites to end the game in their favour. However, the game changed when Shepherd hit Prasidh Krishna’s first ball from penultimate for a six. Even though the bowler staged a strong comeback, he conceded another boundary to close the most. Shepherd then faced Siraj in the final and brought the equation down to 10 out of 3. But with five needed for the final delivery, Siraj managed to place one in the blockhole between the batsman’s legs to seal the deal for the visitors. .
Earlier in the day, India’s best order intensified as the visitors put 308/7 on the board. Shubman Gill and Shikhar Dhawan made the West Indies bowlers pay with regular limits from the start. Dhawan hit two boundaries in the very first set of the match and Gill was forced in the follow-up as he too opened his account with a drive that went to the boundary. Gill was the aggressor of the two as he brought his fifty balls on just 36 balls. Dhawan followed suit and the pair also lifted over 100. However, a tame run allowed India to hand an easy gift to their opponents.
Dhawan continued to rejoice after Gill’s dismissal, but Shreyas Iyer struggled to get started with the hosts peppering him with short stuff. Iyer then redeemed himself once the spinners started bowling in tandem. He faced Pooran for a limit and a six to improve his strike rate and eventually reach fifty as the pair put India completely on top. Dhawan, who had just slogswept for a six to move to 97, left the next delivery as Brooks took a great hold to get rid of the skipper.
The higher order has done the work and established the platform on which the middle order can capitalize. However, the hosts staged an incredible response to the death. From 225/2 after 35 overs, the visitors added just 83 runs in the last 15 overs as the hosts continued to fight back. Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson failed to start while Deepak Hooda had an outing to forget as he struggled with timing. Alzarri Joseph knocked down wood twice in the penultimate but India somehow trailed past the 300 point mark which proved to be good enough.
Short scores: India 308/7 in 50 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 97, Shubman Gill 64; Gudakesh Motie 2/54) beaten West Indies 305/6 in 50 overs (Kyle Mayers 75, Brandon King 54, Romario Shepherd 39*; Shardul Thakur 2-54) by 3 races.