International Cricket

Sharma heroics seal Windies series for India

A superb knock from man of the moment Rohit Sharma saw India win the ODI series against West Indies in Antigua.

Chasing 226 to win, India were in disarray at one point as they stumbled to 92-6 with Shikhar Darwan, Virat Kholi and Subramaniam Badrinath all falling cheaply.

However, Parthiv Patel (46) and Harbhajan Singh (41) teamed up Sharma (86 not out) to crush West Indies hopes of keeping the series alive and put the tourists into an unassailable 3-0 lead.

India made a slow start in reply to West Indies 225-8 but found themselves in real trouble when they lost two wickets for just 26 runs. Darren Sammy accounted for both in consecutive balls removing Dhawan (4) and Kohli (0).

Parthiv Patel and Subramaniam Badrinath consolidated the innings adding 34 runs before Badrinath was caught short of the crease.

Things turned worse for the visitors as Patel departed at 46, while skipper Suresh Raina surrendered his wicket playing a reckless shot.

Yusuf Pathan, who has not had the best of the series, also fell cheaply after Simmons took a brilliant diving catch leaving India reeling.

With a huge defeat hovering over them, Sharma and Harbhajan Singh rebuilt the innings, sharing a vital 88-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

Harbhajan ensured he played second fiddle to Sharma, who ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over.

Harbhajan then smashed Russell for a boundary and then a huge six before another attempt for a big one ended his innings. But his 41 gave India a bright chance of a fightback with Sharma still in the middle.

Praveen Kumar scored a brisky 25 off just 15 balls to help complete the job.

Earlier, a late brutal assault by big-hitting Andre Russell led West Indies to post 225-8.

Russell smashed eight fours and five sixes in a dazzling, unbeaten 92 from 64 balls to finish with the highest innings by a West Indies batsman at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, and bringing respectability to the home team’s batting effort.

His efforts came after Amit Mishra and Munaf Patel had undermined the West Indies.

Mishra followed-up on his career-best bowling in the second one-dayer with three for 28 from his 10 overs, and Munaf supported with three for 60 from his 10 overs, as the West Indies’ frontline batting suffered another crisis of confidence.

The Indians, choosing to field, met token resistance from the West Indies top-order before all-rounder Russell, one of three changes to his side’s line-up, transformed the complexion of the innings.

The visitors had taken a firm grip of the game, following a second-wicket stand of 65 between Lendl Simmons – with 45 off 68 balls – and Ramnaresh Sarwan – 28 off 38 balls.

Mishra triggered another West Indies batting collapse after Sarwan was run out in the 15th over, six wickets falling for 31 between the 15th and 30th over.

But India’s grip was loosened when Russell dominated the next two partnerships – 78 from 96 balls for the eighth wicket with Carlton Baugh, and 51 – unbroken – from the last 28 balls of the innings for the ninth wicket with Kemar Roach.

With Mishra having completed his spell by the 28th over, and Harbhajan bowling a miserly, eight-over opening spell, India turned to the part-time bowlers like Yusuf Pathan and their captain Suresh Raina, both of whom proved to be fodder for Russell.

Two off-side boundaries – a slap through cover, and a thick edge to third man – off Praveen Kumar’s eighth over got Russell into stride.

But successive sixes high over mid-wicket off Pathan’s uncomplicated off-spin in the 40th over helped Russell turn the tide.

Russell’s heroics point to a bright future but it was ultimately not enough for his team.



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