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Rediff.com  » Sports » Dravid guides India to victory

Dravid guides India to victory

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Last updated on: May 19, 2006 11:45 IST

Scorecard | Prem Panicker on the 1st ODI | Images

Skipper Rahul Dravid led from the front as India overcame a minor top order collapse to pull off a dramatic five-wicket win with one ball to spare in the first one-day international against the West Indies in Jamaica on Thursday.

Dravid made a composed 105 off 102 balls steering the Indians closer to victory but they still had to weather a last-minute fightback by the home side in their challenging chase of 251 for six in a rain-shortened match at the Sabina Park.

Needing 43 runs off 37 balls at Dravid's fall, the Indians saw the match go down to the wire with six required from six balls for their 17th successive win while chasing.

But Mohammad Kaif and young Suresh Raina kept their nerve to see the Indians home and give the tourists a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Kaif, 66 not out, brought the winning runs, a cover driven four off Dwayne Bravo.

The middle order batsman, woefully out-of-form in the last two series against Pakistan and England, also featured in a 123-run fourth wicket stand with Dravid that laid the foundation for India's win.

Man-of-the-match Dravid's 12th ODI hundred and third against the West Indies put to shade Chris Gayle's hurricane 123 off 131 balls earlier in the day.

Gayle's cracker of an innings left Dravid ruing his decision to put the hosts in before his bowlers put the skids under the West Indian scoring in a match reduced to 45 overs following heavy overnight and early morning rains.

The tall left-hander smashed 18 boundaries and two sixes in his knock but found little support from the rest of the team with captain Brian Lara being the second top scorer with 35.

Ajit Agarkar was the pick of the bowlers for India with two for 38, while Harbhajan Singh returned an economical 1 for 33.

Irfan Pathan (1-52) and Munaf Patel (1-48) too came back for tidy second spells after being carted all over the park with the new ball.

Dravid gambled on the moisture and green look of the wicket to opt to field first but his bowlers wilted early in sapping heat on a slowish wicket.

Gayle and Runako Morton (23) pounded the Indian new ball bowlers as they put on 87 for the opening wicket, with 74 coming in the first 10 overs.

Pathan began with three wides and two no-balls and by the third over had gone for 25, including four boundaries by Gayle.

Gayle raised his half-century from 46 balls with 11 boundaries before the Indians clawed their way back with two wickets in four overs.

Agarkar, the most impressive of lot, provided the first breakthrough in the 14th over when he induced an edge from Morton to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

Harbhajan Singh then won a leg before wicket shout against Ramnaresh Sarwan as West Indies slipped to 94 for 2 in the 17th over.

Lara then added 82 for the third wicket with Gayle before his full blooded shot was latched on to by Mohammad Kaif at cover.

Gayle slowed down at the approach of the three-figure mark which he reached through a single from an inside edge.

The wiry Jamaican celebrated his 12th ODI hundred and fourth against India, with another huge six and two more boundaries before Dravid came up with a stunner at midwicket off his on drive against Agarkar.

"We are going to be competitive [in the remainder of the series] and there will be an improved performance on Saturday [in the second ODI], maybe we will even win," Lara said.

The Indians were off to a steady start with Dravid and Sehwag notching up 56 runs inside the first 10 overs before a smart piece fielding by Marlon Samuels broke their stand. 

Sehwag middled the ball well, displaying sound footwork which he has often lacked in the past.

But his innings of 22 came to an end when Samuels, having misjudged a skier, quickly recovered and his throw to the striker's end caught the batsman short of the crease.

What aggravated the situation for India, however, was the cheap dismissal of Pathan and Yuvraj Singh.

Pathan failed to get his cut shot on top of Ian Bradshaw and was caught in the slip cordon.

Yuvraj (12), after struggling to rotate the strike, tried to hit his way out of the trouble and ended up mistiming his lofted drive.

This time, however, Samuels made no mistake and nicely held on to the high catch.

It was left to Dravid and Kaif then to see the tourists home, which they did in a composed manner.

Kaif was put down twice, by Lara early on in his innings and then on 35 by Edwards, but never did he nor his captain panicked as the chase entered the climax.

Dravid reached his hundred with a single to midwicket off Edwards, the milestone coming from 99 balls with nine boundaries and two sixes.

The skipper fell soon though, a tiring heave falling into the safe hands of Jerome Taylor at long on.

 

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