Chasing 289 on an outfield that looked like it was wet because of persistent rain and not dew, West Indies had it all to lose, and some of their batsmen tried their best to do so. Ultimately, the cool head of deposed ODI captain Darren Sammy prevailed to level the series 1-1. Kieran Powell and the brothers Bravo threw their wickets away, and Lendl Simmons tried to do so unsuccessfully, but Sammy timed the final assault well to carry a stumbling West Indies to their first win of the tour.
The West Indies bowling towards the end of the Indian innings played a key role in keeping the series alive. India were 194 for 3 when the 36th over began, with Virat Kohli on course for an 18th ODI century. Ravi Rampaul, Jason Holder and Sunil Narine pulled them back, and Kohli fell for 99. Narine bowled his last five overs, coming back in the 37th, for just eight runs, bowling two maidens while Rampaul took the wickets. Despite MS Dhoni’s assault towards the end, a total of 95 in the last 15 overs meant a manageable chase, which became easier as the dew got heavier.
The balls must have felt like bars of soap to India and had to be changed on three occasions. They skidded on, negating the slowness of the surface that had pulled India back when the conditions were dry. West Indies, though, were benevolent. Darren Bravo was dropped three times in four deliveries before he went to cut a length ball from R Ashwin and was dismissed. That ended West Indies’ best partnership of the tour, an even 100, and left Powell kicking the ground in disgust at the other end.
Soon, Powell would show an equal lack of situational awareness. In the 26th and the 27th over, both the wet balls were changed for drier ones. And once again, Powell had the best seat in the house to learn from his partner’s mistake. Lendl Simmons went driving at the first delivery of the 26th over, but the drier ball gripped and turned past the bat. The second took the edge, and fell short of slip. Powell, though, wasn’t observing, and premeditated a skip-and-defence to the first dry ball he faced, missing the line of the ball by at least six inches, and getting stumped by a mile. That was R Ashwin’s second wicket; he bowled 10 overs for 37, a big achievement for a spinner in wet conditions.
At 123 for 2, West Indies needed 166 in 28 overs; at 185 for 4, the 104 required off 15.4 overs seemed even more manageable with a wet ball. Somehow, they managed to throw it away on both occasions, this time Dwayne Bravo pulling to the only man in the deep. Sammy, though, came out and showed his team-mates how to do it.Sammy began with two singles, then played out a maiden from Ravindra Jadeja, but that didn’t worry him. His partner Simmons always tried a big shot whenever he faced a few dots. Sammy, though, knew he could wait. Unlike in the Tests, he backed his game here.
The maiden that Sammy was played was at the start of the Powerplay. There was a concerted effort from Sammy and Simmons to not lose a wicket in the Powerplay – India had lost two for 15. West Indies too managed only 15, but they had wickets in hand to score 86 off the last 10 overs.
Sammy began the assault in the 41st over, taking 12 off Mohammed Shami, and it was clear West Indies were edging ahead. Simmons, though, nearly threw it away in the 42nd but was dropped by Yuvraj Singh at long-on. Perhaps the wetness of the ball caused that slip, but it came a night before India discuss Yuvraj’s shaky position for the tour of South Africa.
Sammy kept backing himself to clear the field whenever he wanted to, but he also played with the field, beating short fine leg on more than occasion while dragging short balls from outside off. Every time an attempted yorker went too full, Sammy put it into the crowd. He had to contend with one final brain fade, though.
West Indies needed 22 off 19 when Jadeja got one to skid and trap Simmons in front. The game was still in West Indies’ grip, which was tightened with a four and a six from Sammy in the next over. This is where Jason Holder and Sunil Narine went for the glory, and made it four required off nine deliveries with two wickets in hand.
Sammy, however, made sure he had crossed over before Narine’s top edge was caught, and took a single to keep strike for the last over. The field came up, but the runs were scored, and Kohli’s effort earlier in the day – which could have made him the first man to have scored five centuries each in consecutive years – was overshadowed.