When Suresh Raina was caught behind in the 16th over during India's chase on Monday evening, many of the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium stands that were nearly packed started wearing a deserted look.
Not because hometown hero Parthiv Patel was dismissed moments before Raina was, but they
felt the writing was on the wall. With India reduced to 84 for five while chasing a target of 261, most of them were sure the match was “gone”.
Though the verdict didn’t change as West Indies registered their maiden win on the tour by 16 runs, those who stayed back were lucky to witness yet another gem, the third in succession, from Rohit Sharma’s willow.
Just like he had starred in India's victories in the first two ODIS, with a classy 72 in Cuttack and an unbeaten 90 in Visakhapatnam, Sharma was well on his way to carrying his team to a famous come-from-behind victory.
With India reeling at 105 for six, Sharma found R Ashwin a solid ally.
Regal Rohit shines again
His late cut was a joy to watch for the purists while his lofted inside out drives over mid-off had the Amdavadis on their feet. Though Ashwin and Vinay perished in quick succession, with Sharma cruising towards his third ODI hundred, and India more than 50 runs from the target, the crowd’s hopes rose that he will ensure victory that would seal the series.
But that’s when disaster struck. With India needing 45 runs off 39 balls, Sharma pushed one firmly to wide mid-on and took off for a single. And skipper Darren Sammy made up for his earlier dropped catch by rocketing the ball into the stumps to leave Sharma short of the crease.
Mithun hit a few lusty blows and kept hopes alive along with Umesh Yadav, but to put on 45 runs was too much of an ask for them. And West Indies rejoiced the moment Ravi Rampaul, who had got rid of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir off successive balls, trapped Mithun plumb in front.
Had it not been for Sammy’s direct hit, West Indies would have found the match slipping out of their hands. And but for the skipper’s 17-ball 41, the Caribbean side wouldn't have been able to cross the 250-mark.
Sammy and big-hitting Andre Russell used their long handles to good effect as West Indies plundered 93 runs off the last seven overs, 43 off them in the last two overs by a hapless looking Mithun and Varun Aaron.
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