India’s young side overcame an early wobble to cruise to a four-wicket victory over the West Indies in Monday’s one-day series opener in Trinidad.
The home side appeared to be in with a shout of defending their low total of 214 for nine when they reduced India to 61 for three, but half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were enough to see India across the line with five overs to spare.
Ultimately a lack of ambition from the West Indian batsmen cost the home side, with their bowlers unable to build enough pressure on India through dot balls as a result.
A slick run-out by Dwayne Bravo brought the early dismissal of Parthiv Patel and anticipation rose when Virat Kohli and Subramaniam Badrinath fell relatively cheaply.
However Dhawan was joined in the middle by Sharma, who did well to get through a nervy start and build a partnership with the opening batsman.
Upon reaching his half-century Dhawan had a rush of blood to the head and holed out at cow corner, but Suresh Raina came to the crease and added 80 to the score with Sharma to effectively put the result beyond doubt.
Although Raina (43) chipped down the throat of long-on off the bowling of Anthony Martin to fall short of a half-century, Sharma grew in confidence throughout his innings and finished unbeaten on 68.
Earlier half-centuries from Marlon Samuels and Ramnaresh Sarwan was as good as it got for the Windies, with several batsmen guilty of failing to make use of handy starts.
The hosts, as valiant as their choice to bat first after winning the toss was, were always going to struggle on a pitch void of much pace and bounce and the collective work of two seamers and a host of spinners made their job all the harder en route to an unimpressive total.
While Lendl Simmons (six) and Darren Bravo (four) were outclassed by Praveen Kumar (two for 37) and Munaf Patel (two for 47) respectively, Kirk Edwards’ torrid knock eventually met its end at a laboured 21 from 45 balls.
Dropped by Sharma in the opening throes of the match and having survived a string of lbw appeals, the right-handed Edwards eventually plopped a sharp Harbhajan Singh (three for 32) delivery to the slips, where Kohli hung onto the sitter.
Sarwan and Samuels dug deep for close on 20 overs, in the process grinding out an 82-run alliance that only on the odd occasion pipped a rate of four runs per over.
The approach was dour, dictated by the top order’s failure and the sluggish track. India’s four spinners, with Harbhajan and Amit Mishra at the helm, tightened their stranglehold throughout. Patel was left to snapple Sarwan down the leg-side for 56 from 94 balls and, five overs later, the part-time trundle of Raina scalped Samuels for 55 from 75.
Dwayne Bravo (22) and Carlton Baugh (16) would have hoped for support from the lower order, which ultimately didn’t oblige. Numbers eight through 11 managed just 15 runs between them, with India’s death bowling just too much to handle for the Windies.
India’s time in the field wasn’t marred only by Rohit’s spill. Wicketkeeper Patel grassed a sharp chance down the leg-side and fluffed a stumping opportunity when Sarwan’s half-century was still in question, and Dhawan spilled one in the deep off the final ball of the innings. Cricket365