Cuttack, Nov 30: Another thriller of a contest as there was a test of nerves as India played West Indies at Cuttack on Tuesday. In a span of 4 days, cricket buffs have witnessed two thrilling finishes in the game of cricket. After the test match, first one dayer at Barbati Stadium went on to the wire as India clinched a boundary off the last ball to register a thrilling 1 wicket win against the Windies at Cuttack to take a 1-0 lead in the 5 match series. Rohit Sharma was awarded the man of the match for his magnificent 72, crucial innings that helped India win a thriller.
[Scorecard: 1st ODI; India Vs West Indies, Cuttack]
At one point, it looked like India having won the toss and restricting Windies to 211/9, with just over 4 runs an over required, India would have easily sailed through. But this game of cricket does not only entertain but also takes it to the wire where in the pressure can be felt. It was indeed a roller coaster ride, as there were ups and downs in Indian innings.
Indians started off very well, racing to 37 for no loss in four overs, before giving Kemar Roach a chance to celebrate as he dismissed Parthiv Patel (12), Gambhir (4) in the same over as India slipped to 41/2. To add fury to the already disappointed Indians, Windies picked up 3 more wickets as the hosts were on the verge to lose the series opener as they were reduced to 59/5 after 11.2 overs.
The powerful Indian batting line up that included the dangerous opener Sehwag (20), talented youngster Virat Kohli (3) and the middle order batsman Suresh Raina (5). Though the run rate was in check, wickets tumbled at the other end as the hosts awaited a partnership that would stabilize the innings and help them win convincingly.
Then came Rohit Sharma, the backbone of the Indian innings as he scored a gritty 72 helping India sail through but could not stay till the end as he was dismissed by a Martin delivery which was misjudged by Rohit Sharma as he couldn't punch the ball which went on to rattle the stumps. He played an important knock as India reached the score of 200 with 5 overs to spare. With Ravindra Jadeja, Sharma piled up 83 runs off 104 balls for the 6th wicket marking the highest partnership of the match.
This successful partnership came to an end as Pollard dismissed Jadeja for 38. Hopes came alive as the centurion of Mumbai Test, R Ashwin walked in. But he could not repeat it at Cuttack as he was dismissed for 6 after giving it a lot of thought, Ashwin took the second run as it was Rohit's call but fell short by a mile as the keeper had enough time to collect the ball and throw it at the non-striker's end.
After witnessing the fall of Indian wickets at the other end, Rohit Sharma, got a valuable partnership of 42 runs with Vinay Kumar for the 8th wicket as they started to bring back the hopes of an Indian win. But started to fade as Sharma got out with 11 runs short of victory.
With 11 needed to win off 26 balls, the match was interesting and exciting as the hosts depended on the No 10 and 11 batsmen to take them safe as the played with their nerves intact, making no mistakes, slow and steadily took their time and squeezed a few singles and finally a boundary off the last ball to register a thrilling win against the Windies.
With a wonderful opportunity at hand, after losing wickets at quick succession, hosts managed to squeeze a win in the last over. Credit goes to Rohit Sharma and Jadeja who played a wonderful knock to help India reach 200 by keeping the hopes of a win alive.
Though India won a thriller of a contest, credit goes to the young Windies side, as they played extremely well to panic the hosts, giving them a wake up call that Windies are a strong side and cannot be taken for granted. With this performance, Indians should not take it easy as it was not a well earned victory as the top order needs to fire.
With a 1-0 lead, Indians might consider themselves as favourites to win the series, but Windies team blossoming every passing day, it remains to be seen whether India can register another white-wash after England series in the absence of Sachin and skipper Dhoni. India play their second one dayer on Dec 2, Friday at Visakhapatnam.