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TIMELY KNOCK:Praveen Kumar's aggressive cameo — after Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh had carried India to relative safety from six for 92 — ensured the visitors won the third ODI with plenty to spare.
St. John's (Antigua): Rohit Sharma has grown in stature on his campaign in the Caribbean. While the quality of the West Indian bowling has been no more than average, the manner in which he has reined in his aggressive instincts, handled adverse situations and batted for the team underlines his new-found resolve.
The serene Rohit's well-constructed 91-ball unbeaten 86 orchestrated India – staring down the barrel at 92 for six in the 23rd over – to a series-clinching three-wicket win over the West Indies in the third ODI at the Vivian Richards Stadium here on Saturday. The visitor was chasing 226.
India now has a winning 3-0 lead in the five-match Digicel series. A side without big names has come together as a cohesive unit.
Rohit soaked up the pressure admirably, collecting his singles and twos with soft hands and deft touch and when he found the gaps, he did so with elegance and timing.
A back-footed punch off Sammy streaked to the fence. Rohit flicked elegantly and his cover-drives soothed one's senses. He was in complete control.
The 88-run partnership between Rohit and Harbhajan Singh kept India in the hunt even as West Indies skipper Darren Sammy missed a trick by not having a stronger infield when his side had an opportunity to bowl India out.
With singles given away, the stress eased on the batsmen. This total was always gettable once India had a partnership going. Although the surface here had more carry than the one in Port of Spain, the pitch offered runs to those who applied themselves.
Harbhajan, who relishes the sniff of a combat, produced a determined innings of 41. He too stayed away from the bigger shots until the later stages, performed the role of a senior professional in the side.
When he walked back attempting a heave off paceman Andre Russell, the calm Rohit and a punishing Praveen Kumar (25 not out off 15) — he blasted Russell over long-off for a stunning six — ensured India would canter home.
The West Indies could not cling on to two half chances offered by Harbhajan – to substitute Anthony Martin at extra-cover and Sammy at mid-wicket – and winning side needs to convert those.
A sinking team needs inspiration and Man-of-the-Match Russell provided it to the West Indies with a power-packed thrill-a-minute unbeaten 92.
Then, the host was buoyant when Lendl Simmons held a spectacular one-handed catch, defying gravity, after Yusuf Pathan swept leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.
Earlier, skipper Suresh Raina, unwisely, had perished to an attempted leg-side heave over mid-wicket off the niggardly Kieron Pollard; the outside edge travelled to covers.
There was a bit more intent in the West Indies new ball attack. Kemar Roach landed it short and angled the deliveries into the batsman's body.
Russell, fresh from his heroics with the bat, was lively as well.
Apart from a couple of bright moments when Parthiv cover-drove Roach to the fence and wristed him over mid-wicket, the Indians were cautious at the start.
Once again, Shikhar Dhawan's looseness outside his off-stump let him down. The left-hander's away-from-the-body waft off Darren Sammy was smartly held by Marlon Samuels at covers.
Perhaps, the change in speed — Sammy is no more than medium-pace — might have done the trick for the host after the brisk opening spells.
But then, Sammy bowls in good areas — his height and high-arm action are his allies — and gets the sphere to seam both ways.
Virat Kohli, his feet not moving, was dismissed in the same over by the one that darted back. Replays showed the ball would have missed leg.
S. Badrinath was shaping well before Russell's sliding stop at mid-off and swift throw to 'keeper Baugh caught him off the crease.
India was in trouble at 60 for three in the 16th over.
Meanwhile, Parthiv (46) was finding momentum, top-edging Russell for the maximum and pulling the same paceman past the fence.
The left-hander was dismissed when he could have constructed a big innings. Parthiv attempted to cut Bishoo but the over-spin on the ball saw him miscuing to point.
The Indian innings was in disarray. Then the cool Rohit turned the game around.
Earlier, down for the count at 96 for seven, the West Indies discovered a hero in all-rounder Andre Russell.
The strongly-built Russell, picking the length early, and striking the ball with ferocious power between long-on and mid-wicket came up with an explosive 64-ball unbeaten 92.
And the West Indies finished at 225 for eight. Russell orchestrated a significant recovery when all seemed lost for the host.
The innings — reminiscent of the Caribbean flair of old — saw Russell propel the ball over the ropes with freedom and flair. His innings included five sixes and eight boundaries.
Crucially, his mind was not clouded by the fear of failure.
For India, leg-spinner Amit Mishra bowling with control, flight and dip impressed.
He scalped three mixing his leg-spinner with the googly.
West Indies: L. Simmons c Kohli b Mishra 45 (68b, 4x4, 1x6), K. Edwards c Parthiv b Munaf 0 (2b), R. Sarwan (run out) 28 (38b, 2x4, 1x6), M. Samuels st. Parthiv b Mishra 1 (10b), D. Hyatt b Mishra 1 (5b), K. Pollard c Parthiv b Harbhajan 6 (16b), C. Baugh c Dhawan b Munaf 36 ( 73b), D. Sammy c Parthiv b Munaf 3 ( 14b), A. Russell (not out) 92 ( 64b, 8x4, 5x6), K. Roach (not out) 7 ( 10b), Extras (lb-2, w-4): 6; Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 225.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Edwards), 2-65 (Sarwan), 3-70 (Samuels), 4-74 (Hyatt), 5-77 (Simmons), 6-85 (Pollard), 7-96 (Sammy), 8-174 (Baugh).
India bowling: Praveen 10-1-46-0, Munaf 10-1-60-3, Mishra 10-2-28-3, Harbhajan 10-2-24-1, Yusuf 5-0-27-0, Kohli 1-0-7-0, Raina 4-0-31-0.
India: P. Patel c Russell b Bishoo 46 ( 56b, 4x4, 1x6), S. Dhawan c Samuels b Sammy 4 ( 15b), V. Kohli lbw b Sammy 0 ( 1b), S. Badrinath (run out) 11 ( 28b, 1x4), R. Sharma (not out) 86 ( 91b, 5x4, 2x6), S. Raina c Simmons b Pollard 3 ( 10b), Y. Pathan c Simmons b Bishoo 1 ( 3b), Harbhajan c Baugh b Russell 41 ( 64b, 1x4, 1x6), P. Kumar (not out) 25 ( 15b, 1x4, 2x6), Extras (b-1, w-5, nb-5): 11; Total (for seven wkts. in 46.2 overs) 228.
Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Dhawan), 2-26 (Kohli), 3-60 (Badrinath), 4-79 (P. Patel), 5-88 (Raina), 6-92 (Pathan), 7-180 (Harbhajan).
West Indies bowling: Roach 8.2-0-46-0, Russell 9-0-59-1, Sammy 10-2-49-2, Bishoo 10-0-41-2, Pollard 9-0-32-1.
Man of the Match: Andre Russell .
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