Shikhar guides India to their sixth ODI series victory in a row
Captain MS Dhoni reaffirmed his reputation as Team India's designated finisher as he guided the hosts to a five wicket win over West Indies in the third and final one-dayer at Kanpur on Wednesday. Scorecardcricket Updated: Jan 13, 2014 20:20 IST
Captain MS Dhoni reaffirmed his reputation as Team India's designated finisher as he guided the hosts to a five wicket win over West Indies in the third and final one-dayer at Kanpur on Wednesday.
By the time Dhoni (23) came out to bat, India were already within sniffing distance of the win, thanks to Shikhar Dhawan's blistering knock of 119 (95 balls, 20 fours). This is his fifth century and highest individual score so far.
Dhawan also became the fastest cricketer to score five ODI centuries. He looked to be in a particularly vicious mood from the word go but after losing two partners, he settled down into a more stable mix of aggression and defence.
Series win notwithstanding, perhaps the biggest plus for India in this game would be the fact that its ailling middle order seems to be finding its feet again. This is heartening indeed for the team, ahead of the South Africa tour that starts next month.
Both Yuvraj Singh (55) and Suresh Raina (34) - two batsmen whose poor form has been quite a cause for worry of late - were among runs. Yuvraj also shared a record 129 run third wicket stand with Dhawan which will do his confidance a world of good.
The elegant southpaw did not look at his best but the crucial stand, at a time when India were two down for 61, gave the team a much needed stability.
India lost the first wicket when Rohit Sharma (4) tried to push a Ravi Rampaul delivery through the covers but ended up giving a thick outside edge to first slip. Virat Kohli (19) looked in good touch but then ended up brushing a length Rampaul delivery as he attempted to leave it at the last moment.
Earlier, a late flourish from Darren Bravo and Darren Sammy saw West Indies to a competitive 263/5.
The two added 67 runs for the sixth wicket, stemming what threatened to turn into the familar West Indian collapse in the middle order.
Put in to bat by Dhoni on the dewy and slightly ill-lit Green Park stadium, West Indies lost opener Johnson Charles (11) in the fifth over when a surprise in-swinger from Bhuvneshwar Kumar moved in from the good length spot, sending the leg stump cartwheeling.
After that, Kieran Powell (70) and Marlon Samuels (71) stitched together a solid second wicket partnership of 117 runs off 147 balls to get the team to 137 for one after 29 overs.
However, Ashwin struck in the 30th over when Powell tried to sweep one that pitched well outside his leg stump and straightened a bit, sending an easy catch to Shikhar Dhawan at short fine leg.
West Indies needed a good middle order partnershp, but that seemed elusive with Ravindra Jadeja removing Lendl Simmons (13) in the 39th over, Dhoni latching on to a sharp catch.
A further blow came in the form of captain Dwayne Bravo (4), who tried to take the aerial route to a Mohammad Shami delivery, ending up sending an easy catch to sweeper Ashwin.
However Sammy - the hero of the last match - came in to stabilise the end of the innings, hitting two sixes and a four to get to his 37. At the other end Bravo hit as many sixes and four fours to get his 51.
Among the bowlers, Ashwin was at the top of the heap, taking 2 for 45 in his ten overs. Kumar and Shami too were miserly enough, picking up one apiece, with averages around five.
For West Indies, Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Naraine stood out. While the former provided the early inroads, the latter bowled a stingy spell of 32 runs in 10 overs.