There were a few hiccups

The outcome extended India’s winning streak at the World Cup to eight matches — stretching back to the last edition — and equalled the record set in 2003, during the side’s run to the final. Shreedutta Chidananda reports.

India claimed its fourth win out of four to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup with a nervy four-wicket defeat of West Indies at the WACA ground. It was not a game of great batting quality — both sides were guilty of rash shots — but it made for entertaining viewing. Perth produced what was easily the surface with the greatest bounce and pace seen so far this tournament. On this pitch, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav thrived, in an hour of thrilling, searing fast bowling which left the West Indians mopping their brows. They bowled short and fast, and with some swing in the early afternoon, the batsmen were beaten routinely.

Dwayne Smith fell first, followed by the unfortunate run out of Marlon Samuels. Chris Gayle struck a few around but he died by the sword, trying to whack a short ball from Shami. When Denesh Ramdin dragged Yadav onto the stumps, it left West Indies reeling on 35 for four.

Mohit Sharma was excellent as the first-change bowler. As ever, he was consistent in his line and length and ensured the West Indian innings developed no momentum.

Shami returned to get rid of Darren Sammy and finish with figures of three for 35, which earned him the Man-of-the-Match award and took him to nine wickets for the tournament. Dhoni was pleased with the performance of his bowlers, who, he felt, had operated as a unit.

“We are not emphasising too much on individual performance, but on partnerships,” he said. “Because if you’re leaking runs from one end, it’s difficult to get wickets and contain batsmen from the other end. That’s something that was happening quite regularly with us outside the sub-continent, but right now, the bowlers are hunting in packs. One good over is followed by another good over. That actually increases the pressure and finally you get a wicket out of it.”

That West Indies got to 182 was only because of a half-century from Jason Holder. The young captain showed spirit and honest endeavour to lead his side to a score that was not embarrassing.

The pitch was slightly bumpy and two-paced in the opening hour, before settling down. But under lights, the ball swung and Jerome Taylor proved to be a handful. He hit the mid 140s regularly and got rid of both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, the latter with a beautiful out-swinger. Virat Kohli batted as if in a dream, hitting some silken boundaries and whipping Taylor off his pads twice in a row.

But he perished to the same shot that had claimed five West Indian batsmen, pulling Andre Russell straight down the throat of the long-leg fielder for 33. When Ajinkya Rahane was adjudged caught behind — the review did not reprieve him — it left India in a spot of bother.

Suresh Raina was peppered with short balls and in trying to break free off the medium-pace of Dwayne Smith, he feathered it to the ’keeper. Ravindra Jadeja showed an alarming lack of judgement in attempting a pull-shot and finding the fielder on the square-leg boundary. Forty nine runs were needed at that stage and it was only due to the sagely batting of Dhoni that India crossed the line. The skipper made an unbeaten 45 and was involved in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 51 with R. Ashwin.

The outcome extended India’s winning streak at the World Cup to eight matches — stretching back to the last edition — and equalled the record set in 2003, during the side’s run to the final.

“It’s not easy to chase this kind of a score on a wicket where it’s slightly double paced,” Dhoni said. “The lower order was tested in this game. We have to contribute more with the lower order batsmen.”

One area of worry was the dropped catches — India put down as many as four chances and on another day it could have proved costly. Dhoni, however, attributed it to the wind. With a quarterfinal slot sewn up, nobody will be complaining.