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India beat Windies by 14 runs

Chanderpaul's valiant fight goes in vain as India keep nerves to restrict the visitors to 324 runs. Full Scorecard

india Updated: Jan 21, 2007 21:48 IST

The curator of the Nagpur pitch had earlier reckoned that even 300 runs might not be enough on the surface. His prediction was bang on target as anything less than 300 was never going to be sufficient in this gem of a batting track.

It was exciting cricket allround at the Vidarbha CA ground at Nagpur. When India finished at a formidable 338, not many would have given a chance to the Windies to make it so close. In the end India kept its nerves as Agarkar conceded only five runs in the penultimate over to restrict the visitors to a spirited 324.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul was not out on 149 from 136 balls (sixteen 4s and three 6s) as the Windies ran out of overs. Keeping him company was J Taylor batting at one. In the end the tourists managed 324 for the loss of eight wickets.

A slow scoring rate in the middle overs was always going to make the target increasingly difficult towards the end. At one stage the visitors needed 70 runs from 36 balls. The Windies did exceedingly well to close in India's target of 339 as Chanderpaul unleashed a flurry of boundaries.

At the start of the West Indian innings, Chris Gayle, the stylish southpaw, completed his 29th ODI fifty - his fourth against India. But he soon perished at 52 to Harbhajan Singh being caught by Rahul Dravid. The new man to join Shivnarine Chanderpaul was Runako Morton, who didn't stay long and was out bowled to the turbanator for eight runs.

Brian Lara, who came at the fall of Samuels (bowled at 40 by Zaheer Khan) was good as long as he lasted, hitting a quick fire 31 from 23 balls. His small innings featured two 4s and two 6s. He was stumped by MS Dhoni, off the bowling of Tendulkar.

Earlier in the day, it was a different Team India on display. For a change, all batsmen fired for India after a long, long time as they were dealing mostly in sixes. The Indian run riot started by Ganguly and Gambhir eventually culminated into an imposing 338 for the loss of three wickets.

The Indian innings was well rounded-up by MS Dhoni and Rahul Dravid who plundered 119 runs from the last 71 balls for the fourth wicket. The former finished the day with 62 runs from 42 balls (three 4s and four 6s). Skipper Dravid also looked in good nick as he scored 54 from 35 balls (four 4s and three 6s)

Dada was back with vengeance, as he smacked the Windies bowlers all over the park with unparalleled panache, hitting a sensational 98 of 110 balls, which included 11 boundaries and three sixes.

On 98 Ganguly flicked one to square leg and Dayne Smith - fielding just behind square, swooped down on the ball, picked it up with his right hand and in the same motion hurled the ball at the non-striker's end. The direct hit found Ganguly just short of the crease, denying him a well-deserved century.

It was vintage Ganguly at his best, the Nagpur ground once again proving lucky for him. In three earlier matches played by Ganguly on the Vidarbha CA ground, he has scored 214 runs with one century and one half century.

As usual it was a treat to watch the Bengal Tiger as he hit sixes with inexplicable ease. He hit three of them, one of which soared right out of the ground.

The southpaw had earlier built a 144-run partnership with opener Gautam Gambhir. He then structured a 70-run partnership with little master Sachin Tendulkar, who was trapped leg before by Gayle for 31.

After an extended era of run drought (not many runs have been scored by India of late), this performance by the Indian batsmen comes as a welcome respite.

Going forward, both teams will have to strive hard as the four-match series will as much be about 'looking ahead' as it will be about 'winning'.

The four-match series will be demanding and neither team can afford serious injuries at this stage. Fast bowlers from both sides will mostly have to endure heart-rending shirt-fronts and the bats are likely to talk the loudest.

Teams

India: Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth.

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Brian Lara (capt), Runako Morton, Dinesh Ramdin (wk), Dwayne Smith, Dave Mohammed, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor.