Chennai, March 20 (IANS) Yuvraj Singh struck his maiden World Cup century but India again squandered a good start by losing their last seven wickets for 53 runs before being bowled out for 268 runs in 49.1 overs by the West Indies in their last Group B game at the M.Chidambaram Stadium here Sunday.
The 29-year-old Yuvraj, who struck three half-centuries in his last four innings in the tournament, showcased his sense of timing and sublime wristy stroke-play hitting a fluent 113 off 123 balls. Yuvraj, who was struggling with the heat and humidity, added 122 runs in 23.5 overs with Virat Kohli (59 off 76 balls) to hold an otherwise shaky innings together.
The Yuvraj-Kohli partnership apart, the Indian batting never showed much conviction and a collapse thereafter seemed par for the course as yet again, the hosts wasted a strong start, losing their last seven wickets for just 53 runs in 7.3 overs.
For the West Indies, Ravi Rampaul, the 26-year-old medium pacer from Trinidad, bristled with aggression on his World Cup debut and generated appreciable pace on a pitch that offered good bounce and he came away with five wickets for 51, including that of Sachin Tendulkar.
The Tendulkar bubble burst in the very first over when Rampaul dug one in and the batsman nicked to the ‘keeper. Umpire Steve Davis was unmoved by the appeal, but Tendulkar walked.
The other opener, Gautam Gambhir, and Kohli steadied the ship, but it was a rather scratchy partnership that was broken in the seventh over. Gambhir cut Rampaul straight to the third man fielder Andre Russell and India were 51 for two.
Thereafter, Yuvraj and Kohli came together. The duo initially batted with some circumspection as the Windies fast bowlers generated some pace and bounce, but once they got their eye in, the partnership flourished.
Yuvraj survived two chances when on nine and 11, dropped both times by skipper Darren Sammy, first off Russell at backward of point and then off his own bowling in the next over.
Yuvraj capitalised on the two let-offs and dominated with typical wristy shots, particularly on the leg-side, while Kohli nudged and pushed with an occasional boundary hit.
The Windies bowling seemed to have lost its early sting and the batsmen were fed with a generous dose of long hops and half-volleys that were put away.
Sammy shuffled his bowlers, but to little effect until he brought on Rampaul for his second spell and the Trinidadian fast bowler nipped one back to castle Kohli.
With skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for company, Yuvraj cruised along and soon got to his 13th ODI and maiden World Cup century off 112 deliveries. Yuvraj 10 fours and two sixes during his stay.
Dhoni did not last long as he jumped out to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, missed the line totally and was stumped to trigger a collapse.
World Cup debutant Suresh Raina followed his skipper soon after, sweeping Sammy to short fine-leg where Rampaul took a smart catch and not long after, Yuvraj offered a tame return catch to Pollard as India slumped to 240 for six at the start of the batting Powerplay during which India lost four wickets for only 28 runs.
Yusuf Pathan, greeted by a big roar of expectations, did not last long and missed a slog off Rampaul to be bowled while tailenders Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel hardly troubled the scorers, leaving debutant Ravichandran Ashwin not out on 10.