Jamshedpur: Ajit Agarkar smashed a career best 95 as India recovered from a shaky start to post 283 for six in the first One-day International against the West Indies on Wednesday.
India was struggling at 49 for two before Agarkar restored his team's fortunes with a 98-run stand for the third wicket with V V S Laxman (47). Agarkar, sent in as a pinch-hitter, then put on 75 for the fourth wicket with Rahul Dravid (46 not out) as India set a stiff target for the tourists after electing to bat on a slow wicket at the Keenan Stadium. His aggressive knock set the stage for the closing-overs onslaught as the hosts plundered 69 in the last 10 overs, with Mohammad Kaif scoring an 18-ball 31 not out. The 24-year-old Agarkar, whose previous best was an unbeaten 67 against Zimbabwe at home two years ago, dominated the rival attack with a wide range of shots during his 101-ball knock as he cracked two sixes and 11 fours. He offered a chance on 94 when left-arm paceman Pedro Collins dropped a sharp return catch, but fell in the same over as he drove straight to Chris Gayle at short cover. Agarkar eased the pressure on India with his quickfire knock, pulling paceman Vasbert Drakes and hoisting leg spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo over long-on for sixes. Collins and Drakes had earlier removed Virender Sehwag (28) and skipper Saurav Ganguly (16) in a space of three overs to put India on the back foot. Drakes struck with his third delivery, which was short and rose alarmingly, forcing Sehwag to pull it awkwardly for the bowler to hold it on his follow-through. Ganguly inside-edged Collins's delivery on to his stumps. Agarkar then denied the West Indies success for a long spell as he received valuable support from Laxman and Dravid.
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