Chennai, March 20: A late fight back from the Windies saw the Indian middle and latter order collapse in a heap yet again. Some sharp bowling from Ravi Rampaul who finished with a career-best haul of 5/51, saw India slip from 218/4 in 41.4 overs to 268 all out. India's poor finish to the innings came despite a brilliant 113 from Yuvraj Singh and a 122-run stand with Virat Kohli (59), which seemed to set up India for a score in excess of 300, but that was not to be.
After reaching an ominous 123/2 in 25 overs, the Indian batting duo of Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli continued to make hay while the sun shone. Yuvraj exorcised the demon spawned by leg-spinner Bishoo to take him for 11 runs in the 26th over, including two back-to-back fours.
The southpaw thus brought up his fourth 50 in the tournament. Then asserting his dominance over the other spinner Benn, he got him away for two boundaries as well. Kohli hit Pollard for a six over mid wicket to bring up India's 150.
But just as it looked like this stand was going from strength to strength, Rampaul returned to clean up Kohli for 59 off 76 balls. India were 173/3 in 32.2 overs and still looking in a healthy position as MS Dhoni walked out to the crease. The new batting pair motored along before Yuvraj swept Bishoo for a four fine to bring up India's 200 in the 38th over.
A couple of overs later, Yuvraj brought up his 13th ODI century by running a single off Pollard. India were 213/3 in 40.3 overs and looking all set to launch out towards a huge total. But almost immediately, Bishoo had Dhoni stumped for 22 off 30 balls and India were 218/4 in 41.4 overs.
Yuvraj seemed to make his intentions clear when he carted Sammy for a six in the 44th over. But later in the over, the bowler had new batsman Suresh Raina, caught at short fine leg for 4 off 8 balls. India were in a spot of bother at 232/5 in 23.5 overs and slipped further into trouble when Pollard had Yuvraj caught and bowled for 113 off 123 balls.
With the batting power-play taken in the 45th over, Yusuf Pathan struck a third-man boundary straight away. Then in the following over, Pathan ran a double of Rampaul to bring up 250, but was out bowled next ball. Pathan was on his way for 11 off 10 and India were in quite some distress at 251/7. Was there going to be another latter-order collapse?
That indeed was the case with Harbhajan Singh going for 3 off 6 balls to Andre Russell, thanks to a brilliant catch by Pollard at long on. India had slumped to 259/8 in 47.5 overs. The end came swiftly from there, with Rampaul cleaning up Ashwin for 10 and Russell bowling Munaf Patel for a first-ball duck. India was all out for 268 in 49.1 overs.
There was disappointment for India straight away in the first over when Sachin Tendulkar was caught behind off Ravi Rampaul for 2. Gautam Gambhir tried to settle the Indian nerves by picking up off-break Sulieman Benn for a four in the second over and followed that shot with another boundary off the same bowler in the 4th, before edging Rampual for an unconvincing shot to the sweeper boundary.
Then Virat Kohli got into the act, smacking two fours off Benn in the 6th over as India climbed to 38/1. Andre Russell bowled four byes to allow India to 50 at the end of the 8th over. Then Rampual got his second wicket when he had Gambhir caught at the third man boundary for 22 off 26 balls and India wer 51/2 in 8.3 overs.
Kohli and Yuvraj Singh steadied the innings and were going along quite briskly till leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo pegged back the run-rate a tad. But not to be suppressed, Yuvraj hammered captain Darren Sammy for a six to bring up India's 100 in the 21st over. The batting duo pressed on without any problems reaching 125/2 in 25 overs.