Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Dhawan’s century helped India win the decider
India opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan smashed a trailblazing century to demolish the West Indies by five wickets in the third and final ODI in Kanpur.
Dhawan was well supported by veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who scored an excellent half-century, as India emerged victorious in the decider to win the ODI series 2-1.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first.
His decision paid off almost immediately as West Indies opening batsman Johnson Charles was clean bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar for only 11 runs.
However, Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels made up for the early loss with a brilliant 117-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Powell threw his wicket away when attempting a sweep shot off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin, which was caught by Dhawan at short fine leg.
Powell’s outstanding innings of 70 came off 81 balls and included nine boundaries.
Samuels failed to last much longer as he was cleaned up by Ashwin for 71 off 93 deliveries, which included seven boundaries and a six.
Lendl Simmons only managed to score 13 runs before being caught behind off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja.
West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo failed to make a major contribution with the bat as well as he could only amass four runs before being caught by Ashwin at extra cover off the bowling of Mohammed Shami.
However, the West Indies finished on a high as Darren Sammy and Darren Bravo put together an unbeaten 64-run partnership, during which Bravo registered his half-century.
Bravo finished on 51 off 53 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes, while Sammy remained undefeated on 37 off 29 deliveries, which included one boundary and two maximums, as the West Indies went on to post 263 at the end of their 50 overs.
Ashwin was the pick of the Indian bowlers with two wickets, while Kumar, Shami and Jadeja all snapped up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 264 to win the series, India got off to a poor start as opening batsman Rohit Sharma edged a delivery from Ravi Rampaul to Dwayne Bravo at first slip to be dismissed for just four runs.
Rampaul struck again just a few overs later as Virat Kohli was caught behind for 19 runs when attempting to leave the ball.
Dhawan and Singh made up for the loss of Sharma and Kohli with a magnificent 129-run partnership, during which Dhawan recorded his fifth ODI century and Singh his half-century, before Singh edged a delivery from Sunil Narine straight to Dwayne Bravo at slip.
Singh’s fantastic knock of 55 came off 74 balls and included seven boundaries.
Dhawan failed to last much longer as he was out caught and bowled to Dwayne Bravo for 119 off just 95 balls, which included 20 boundaries.
Suresh Raina managed to amass 34 runs before he was caught behind to become Bravo’s second victim of the day.
However, there were no more nasty surprises for India as Dhoni and Jadeja led them across the finish line with just under four overs to spare.
Rampaul and Bravo picked up two wickets apiece, while Narine chipped in with one.
Bravo was disappointed at having lost the match, but praised his team for the heart and fight they showed throughout the series.
“We did very well [with the bat], Sammy played a fantastic innings, can’t forget the innings of Samuels,” he said. “We lost a few wickets. At 260, we should have given a better bowling effort. We did not start well [with the ball]. Simmons and I getting out at crucial times, we could have capitalised better. Chasing 280 instead of 260 could have been a different ball game.”
Dhoni was pleased to have won the match as it kept India’s outstanding run in limited overs cricket alive.
“Once you win the toss and field, it is important to restrict the opponents,” he said. “We bowled well, but were unlucky, some edges did not carry, there were lots of play-and-misses. 280 becomes quite a big score. I felt it was not a normal Kanpur wicket, it was much better to bat on. That is why 260 seemed just below a par score.
“If you compare the Australia series to the kind of death bowling we did today… even if we were missing the yorkers, it was not by much, they were ending up as low full tosses, that is a big improvement for us.
“Also the middle overs, the two spinners, and Raina, is a big positive. The openers gave a very good start, Virat has been in form, and we have finished well with the lower order.”
Dhawan was named Man of the Match for his sparkling century.
“It has been a great year for me,” he said. “We usually play on these kind of tracks in Delhi and I am used to playing on them. I knew there would not be much bounce and the drives were on. Happy with my form, the team is doing great.”
Kohli received the Man of the Series award for scoring 204 runs in three matches at an incredible average of 68.
“Just trying to make the most of the sort of form I am in now,” he said. “Trying to stay in the zone. Been coming off well, but the most important month for us is coming now in South Africa, so good to get a few runs before going there. I try to score as many as I can, staying in a nice happy space. We have scored a lot of runs, all of us that is why we are ODI No 1 right now. [South Africa] is a challenge, this team likes a challenge, I think we are good enough to stand up to it, and won’t disappoint our fans.”