Perth, March 6:
A superlative bowling performance helped India beat the West Indies by four wickets in a World Cup Pool B encounter at the WACA here on Friday. They registered their fourth straight victory and qualified for the quarterfinals.
The defending champions’ victory, however, did not come without hiccups. At one stage, India were 134/6 chasing a modest target of 183 set by the Windies, but Dhoni and Ashwin steered the team calmly to post a victory with an unfinished partnership of 51. The captain remained not out on 45, the highest score on the Indian side while Ashwin remained unbeaten on 16.
Skipper Jason Holder (57) waged a lone battle as the West Indies were bowled out for 182 in 44.2 overs. During the chase, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (not out 45), Virat Kohli (33) and Ashwin (16) helped the defending champions cross the line with four wickets and 10.5 overs to spare.
Chasing a meagre 183, India lost both openers Rohit Sharma (7) and Shikhar Dhawan (9) cheaply. Vice captain Virat Kohli (33) took India out from the early trouble and looked solid at the crease as he stroked five boundaries in his 36-ball innings.
However, the Windies pacers were in with a mission and some lethal pace backed by aid from the fast pitch led them to clinch the wickets of Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane (14), Suresh Raina (22) and Ravindra Jadeja (13) at regular intervals to put India in more than a spot of bother.
However, a patient Dhoni, coming in at No.6, stuck it out in the middle to score a crucial, unbeaten 45 to see India home with Ravichandran Ashwin (16 not out) beside him. But the Windies bowlers tested India throughout their innings.
Earlier, asked to bowl, India obliged by packing off the former two-time champions with pace spearhead Shami being the pick of the bowlers.
Shami and Umesh Yadav (2/42) bowled superbly in tandem with accurate line-and-length to restrict the Windies at 8/1 in five overs. In fact, explosive opener Chris Gayle (21) struggled and took 11 balls to get off the mark, that too in the sixth over.
Gayle looked a little dangerous when he smashed two boundaries and a six but once he got out, Indian bowlers ripped apart the Windies batting line-up. The burly left-hander gave three difficult chances to India but eventually gifted his wicket when he slashed hard a short ball only to be caught by Mohit Sharma at mid-wicket.
Shami, who did not play in India’s last match against the United Arab Emirates due to injury, and Yadav made perfect use of the pacy and bouncy WACA wicket to take four wickets to reduce the Caribbean side to 35/4 by the 10th over. Some poor shot selection by Windies batsmen also aided the defending champions.
Third pacer Mohit (1/35) was also impressive while spinners Ashwin (1/38) and Jadeja (2/27) choked the Windies and consequently the batsmen gave away their wickets.
The Indian fielding proved to be two sides of the same coin. While some fielded brilliantly to stop runs and clinched impressive catches, a couple of sitters were also dropped by Jadeja and Rohit which helped the Windies go beyond the 150-run mark.
Windies captain Jason Holder (57) offered the only resistance down the order with his highest One-Day International (ODI) score. The 23-year-old all-rounder showed the WACA wicket was a good one to bat on as he hammered three sixes and four fours in his 64-ball innings before being caught on the last ball of the innings.
India next play Ireland on March 10 at Hamilton.
Brief scores: West Indies 182 all out in 44.2 overs (Jason Holder 57; Mohammed Shami 3/35, Ravindra Jadeja 2/27, Umesh Yadav 2/42) vs India 185/6 in 39.1 overs (Mahendra Singh Dhoni 45 not out, Virat Kohli 33; Jerome Taylor 2/33, Andre Russell 2/43).