KINGSTON: Hosts West Indies levelled their four-match one day international (ODI) series with India here on Sunday with an emphatic eight-wicket victory, despite a magnificent 95 runs by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Dhoni struck six fours and two sixes from 130 balls, as he almost single-handedly led an Indian revival, but West Indies’ final target of 189 was never going to be treacherous. India bowled steadily, but West Indies reached the target with 95 balls to spare, following a workmanlike 85 from 102 balls from Runako Morton, and a typically robust 64 from 46 balls from Chris Gayle. India had won the first match by 20 runs.
India plunged to 82-8 in the 22nd over. But Dhoni staged a rearguard action in the form of a 101-run, ninth-wicket stand with Rudra Pratap Singh before they both fell in the space of six balls as India were dismissed for 188 in 48.2 overs. Singh made 23, and left-hander Yuvraj Singh scored 35. When Yuvraj square drove Ravi Rampaul for the last of his five fours, he became the fifth Indian batsman to score 7,000 runs in ODIs.
But India were undermined by Rampaul with a career-best 4-37. India’s demolition was completed by Dwayne Bravo (3-26), and Jerome Taylor (3-35). Denesh Ramdin also became the latest wicketkeeper to snare five catches in an ODI innings.
India were in trouble from the outset in defending their total, when Gayle and Morton put on 101 for the first wicket inside 16 overs. Rohit Sharma made the breakthrough, when he had Gayle caught at long-off, and gave India a boost, when Ramnaresh Sarwan (15) was stumped to leave West Indies 132-2. But an unbroken stand of 60 between Morton and Chanderpaul carried West Indies over the threshold.
Earlier, India were on the back-foot from early on, when Dinesh Karthik was caught behind off Taylor in the first over. Gautam Gambhir was also caught behind off Rampaul, who also had Rohit Sharma caught at second slip in the space of three balls in the second over. India were 7-3, when Dhoni joined Yuvraj, and they breathed life into the innings with a stand of 47 for the fourth wicket.
But Yuvraj became the first of five wickets which fell for 28 in 56 balls, and by the halfway stage, India had lost the majority of their batsmen. Dhoni and RP Singh frustrated West Indies until the 48th over when Bravo struck. Singh was caught at mid-wicket before Taylor brought the innings to a close in the next over when he bowled Dhoni with a slower ball.