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Dravid ensures easy win for India

By Deepti Patwardhan
Last updated on: July 31, 2005 21:43 IST
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Rahul Dravid led India to a convincing six-wicket victory over the West Indies in the second league match of the IndianOil Cup at the Rangiri Dambulla International stadium in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, on Sunday.

Paceman Jermaine Lawson gave the West Indies a lively start, but aggressive play from Suresh Raina and the India captain's solidity in the middle-order made sure the target of 179 was attained easily.

Dravid notched 52 runs in 65 balls and was adjudged the man of the match.

India had earlier bowled out the West Indies for 178 in 47.4 overs after being put in to field.

Narsingh Deonarine, top scorer with 41, and Denesh Ramdin, who both made their ODI debuts, put up a semblance of a fight but the West Indies batting line-up struggled from the lack of experience.

Deonarine battled hard for over two hours, an innings that included a six and two fours.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh claimed 2-24, part-timer Virender Sehwag finished with 2-37 with his off breaks and Ashish Nehra helped polish off the tail.

West Indies innings

The pitch favoured the bowlers in the opening game between India and Sri Lanka on Saturday and the strip used for this match looked greener. Floating clouds overhead, brief showers just before the start of the game and a strong breeze added to the woes of the batsmen.

The West Indian opening partnership of Runako Morton and Xavier Marshall, with combined experience of 11 one-day games, never looked like facing up to the sharp opening burst from the Indian bolwers.

India again opted for three left-arm pacemen and Irfan Pathan was on the button right from the beginning. After bowling a maiden first over, Pathan got the wicket of Morton in his next with his stock in-swing delivery.

The ball, pitching on off-stump, swung into the batsman and trapped Morton, leaning into the shot, in front of the stumps. (1-1).

Keeping a tight line, Zaheer and Pathan maintained their stranglehold over the batsmen.

The West Indies, missing 10 of their leading players after a prolonged contracts dispute, had scored only seven runs in the first five overs and the pressure was telling on its young batting line-up. The boundaries dried up for the flamboyant batsmen and they were forced to steal runs from a packed in-field.

Having turned the ball to squre leg, Sylvester Joseph ran down to the other end but Marshall called for the second when the ball had already reached the fielder.

Suresh Raina was up and throwing in a flash. Joseph was a good two yards short when Dhoni received the throw and dislodged the bails. (22-2)

In a hurry to get to the other end, Marshall also failed to put his bat down behind the crease and the umpire called a run short.

Marshall, who is compared with former West Indian Lawrence Rowe back home, showed flashes of brilliance while driving through the off, but was indecisive in his shot selection for most part of the 48-ball innings.

He fell to a delivery from Harbhajan Singh that held its line. Marshall, trying to play for the spin, edged the ball to Rahul Dravid at first slip. (32-3)

West Indies limped on to their 50 in the 22nd over.

Zaheer (6-2-19-0) and Pathan (7-3-12-1) had finished with outstanding opening spells and captain Dravid was mindful of not exhausting their overs early on. He also took off Harbhajan and Nehra from the attack after six overs each and introduced Raina and Virender Sehwag.

The move paid off almost instantly as Raina removed West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul after he had steadied the ship somewhat in the company of Deonarine.

Chanderpaul was out lbw while trying to sweep Raina for 22 from 53 balls after sharing a partnership of 52 with Deonarine. (84-4)

Ricardo Powell, who joined the West Indies squad for the tri-series, was bowled for one. Sehwag got him with a classic off-spinner, as Powell played down the wrong line to find his stumps disturbed. (85-5).

Dwayne Smith, the bright batsman from Barbados, then scored a quickfire 20. The first ball he faced, a full toss, was driven down to the long-on boundary. The next was dispatched over the fence in the same area. He then dealt with a short delivery from Raina with similar disdain and pulled it for six over square leg.

But, fortunately for India, the storm lasted only seven balls. Harbhajan got him with a delivery that pitched on off-stump and moved away, just brushing the bat. Mahendra Singh Dhoni held on to the close chance. (109-6).

The two debutants, Deonarine (41) and Ramdin (24), played crucial knocks, giving a measure of their patience.

Deonarine held one end up but completely declined to attack. He was a touch unlucky to be given out lbw, sweeping and missing against Sehwag. The ball appeared to pitch outside leg stump, but Daryl Harper upheld the appeal (140 for 7).

Ramdin and Tino Best (24 from 21 balls) held up the Indian bowlers at the death with a 32-run stand before Nehra and Zaheer Khan polished off the tail.

The lower order put up some resistance against the Indians but the battle had been lost in the first 25 overs in which the West Indies put up only 57 runs.

Nehra got the wickets of Ramdin and Darren Powell off successive deliveries, but missed out on a hat trick as the attempted yorker to Jermaine Lawson fell short.

Best was the last man out as the West Indies innings folded on 178 from 47.4 overs.

India innings

India got off to an anxious start after the team management sprang a surprise by making Mohammed Kaif open the innings with Virender Sehwag.

Jermaine Lawson bowled a vibrant length and got enough movement to plant doubt in the batsmen's minds. He had Sehwag edge a ball going down the leg-side in his first over. The ball pitched short of length on the off stump and angled in. (3-1).

Another batting shuffle was on the way as Suresh Raina walked in at one down.

Lawson then troubled Raina with the ball that left him. Raina was lucky to escape the second duck of his short ODI career after he tried to chop a short and wide delivery over point. Ricardo Powell lost the ball and dropped a relatively easy chance.

The Indian batsmen were beaten consistently by Lawson's pace. Darren Powell, at the other end, was bowling at a lively pace but was much too wide to cause any problems for the Indians.

Raina used the shorter length to his advantage, breaking free with three pulled shots that scorched to the boundary. The Uttar Pradesh youngster had come into the spotlight for his fearless batting in the under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh last year and pulled his weight against the West Indies after a disappointing debut just the previous day.

Kaif also started going for his shots at the other end and the left-right combination added 65 runs in 62 balls. Opening the innings for the first time, Kaif matched his young Uttar Pradesh mate for every shot and hit five boundaries.

Tino Best drew him into a drive and the ball shaped away with an edge off Kaif''s bat. Sylvester Joseph, at first slip, held on well to a sharp chance. (68-2)

Raina was again dropped on 27 by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin off Best, but couldn't stretch his luck for long.

West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul spotted his penchant to hit on the up and employed a short cover. The 18-year-old tried to drive a short ball off the backfoot straight to the fielder there. (82-3).

The West Indian fast bowlers lacked discipline and gave away as many as 18 wide balls.

Dravid and Yuvraj Singh then carried the reins without much fuss. West Indies attack lost its fizz after the early rush and the batsmen milked the attack. The runs were also not enough to assert any pressure on India.

Dravid and Yuvraj batted at a steady scoring rate to notch up a 61-run fourth-wicket partnership.

Yuvraj, struggling for form, scored 28 from 57 balls before being bowled by Lawson. (143-4)

The Indian captain, scoring almost half his runs in singles, batted with his usual calm after Yuvraj departed for 28.

He gave another indication of how well he has adapted to the shorter version of the game. Most of his scoring shots came square of the wicket as he scored 59th ODI fifty. Dravid did not cow down against the West Indies pacers and attacked them right from the beginning to make sure that the required run rate did not get out of hand.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni finished off the job at hand, quickly hitting 15 from 11 balls. He sealed the match with a six over mid-wicket off Lawson as India romped to an easy win in 36 overs.

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Deepti Patwardhan