Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose effigies were burnt in his hometown Ranchi after India were knocked out of the World Twenty20, has put India one win away from sealing a series triumph in the Caribbean.
On Friday, in a game badly affected by rain, Dhoni emerged India’s shining star for the second time in three games. India take the field in the final match on Sunday in the knowledge that they have an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series. India last won an ODI series in the West Indies 2-1 in 2002 after the first two matches of a five-game series were washed out. In Friday’s match that went right down to the wire, India needed 11 to win off the last over and Dhoni swung the second ball from Jerome Taylor high and wide into the stands at midwicket to seal a tight six-wicket win.
India coach Gary Kirsten admitted that batting second gave India the edge because of the interruptions.
“It did suit us to be batting second because you can dictate the game a little better when the overs are shortening in terms of what you need,” he said.
However, Kirsten was quick to heap praise on his captain. “Someone like MS Dhoni can hit the ball out the ground at any time. It was comforting that we had him at the crease controlling the game
“When it comes down to the wire it can go either way, the most important thing is that you have game breakers and match-winners in at that situation.”
India’s already frazzled nerves were tested further towards the end of the chase with the electronic scoreboard blanking out. “It was mind-blowing to be honest, but the umpires were giving them notice every over so they knew what was going on,” said Kirsten, who was keeping the team aware of how they stood in terms of the Duckworth-Lewis par score.
But it was not as though India were not negatively impacted by the rain. “The D-L method got us onto the back foot. We weren't able to use the second powerplay,” said Dhoni after the match. “We knew the last over would come from the end where a swing over the leg side would carry to the ropes with the help of the strong wind, and it worked.” Rain forced the third ODI to start more than two hours late and initially the game was reduced to 39 overs. Further interruptions meant that Duckworth Lewis came into play in the first innings itself.
The West Indies ended with a handy 186 from 27 overs, thanks mainly to a bright 62 from Ramnaresh Sarwan. India were left chasing a Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target for 195 from 27 overs and further rains modified the ask to 159 from 22.
Dinesh Karthik (47) and Gautam Gambhir (44) put on 84 before the West Indies prised out both openers and Yuvraj Singh in quick succession. Dhoni kept his end up, timed his final assault perfectly and was unbeaten on 46 when India won with 1 ball to spare.
West Indies(27 overs maximum)
C Gayle 27, R Morton 22, R Sarwan run out 62, S Chanderpaul c Nehra b Pathan 15, D Bravo c Dhoni b Nehra 14, D Bravo b Nehra 21, D Ramdin not out 14, J Taylor c I Sharma b Harbhajan Singh 1;
Extras: (lb 7, w 2, nb 1) 10;
Total: (7 wickets; 27 overs) 186;
FoW: 1-27, 2-78, 3-125, 4-135, 5-170, 6-173, 7-186;
Bowling: I Sharma 5-0-35-0, A Nehra 5-1-21-3, RP Singh 5-0-34-0, Harbhajan Singh 5-0-35-2, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-19-0, R Sharma 1-0-7-0, Y Pathan 4-0-28-1.
India(target: 159 runs off 22 overs)
D Karthik run out 47, G Gambhir c Ramdin b Benn 44, MS Dhoni not out 46, Yuvraj Singh c DM Bravo b Bernard 2, R Sharma c Bernard b DJ Bravo 11, Y Pathan not out 1;
Extras: (lb 4, w 3, nb 1) 8;
Total: (4 wickets; 21.5 overs) 159;
FoW: 1-84, 2-108, 3-117, 4-148; Bowling: J Taylor 3.5-0-39-0, R Rampaul 4-0-26-0, D Bravo 4-0-27-1, D Bernard 3-0-21-1, S Benn 5-0-31-1, C Gayle 2-0-11-0.