Sharma takes India to the top over West Indies

Rohit Sharma struck an unbeaten 68 off 75 balls on Monday as India coasted to a four-wicket win over the West Indies in the opening one-day international at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Sharma lashed three fours and a six as the visitors reached a victory target at 217-6 with 31 balls to spare.

Shikhar Dhawan helped set the winning platform with 51 off 76 balls at the top of the order while skipper Suresh Raina provided middle order stability with 43 off 50 deliveries.

Leg-spinner Anthony Martin was the best of the West Indian bowlers with 2-39. Seamer Ravi Rampaul claimed 2-58.

Earlier, half centuries from Ramnaresh Sarwan (56) and Marlon Samuels (55) formed the basis of West Indies’ total of 214-9 off 50 overs.

But the hosts were unable to collar the Indian attack, which was led by Harbhajan Singh’s 3-32.

Raina contributed 2-23 with his part-time off-spin while new ball pair of Praveen Kumar (2-37) and Munaf Patel (2-47) also contributed.

Low total
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy blamed his side’s batting for the defeat.

“We didn’t bat. We didn’t score enough runs,” he said. “We kept taking wickets but the low total wasn’t enough to keep the pressure on them.”

Raina was delighted with the opening match triumph.

“It’s a great game for us,” he said. “We set the foundations, first the bowlers, who did a great job, followed by Rohit and Shikhar. They batted really well.”

Kumar made early inroads for India after the West Indies won the toss and chose to bat.

Lendl Simmons (6), trying to advance and hit over the top, provided a limp miscue to mid-off at 23-1.

Munaf struck five runs later as left-hander Darren Bravo (4) sliced an edge to first slip.

Kirk Edwards, who survived two chances, shared a stand of 31 with Sarwan for the third wicket before Harbhajan broke through.

Edwards struggled to 21 off 45 balls before he top-edged a pull which first slip held running back at 59-3 in the 19th over.

In a tangle
Sarwan and Samuels slowly built the platform for the innings, adding a further 82 off 119 deliveries.

Sarwan arrived at his fifty off 92 balls with his fourth boundary. The Guyanese right-hander added another four but fell soon afterwards as he glanced a leg side catch to wicketkeeper Partiv Patel off Munaf.

Samuels lofted a six to reach his landmark but he, too, could not carry on. The Jamaican hit three fours and two sixes before he was bowled as he got into a tangle trying to whip Raina through the leg side.

The lower order failed to produce the needed lift in tempo as Harbhajan added the scalps of Dwayne Bravo (22) and Carlton Baugh (16).

The Indian chase wobbled early as Parthiv Patel (13) was run out by Dwayne Bravo and Virat Kohli (2) edged to wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh off Rampaul at 34-2.

Dhawan and Subramanian Badrinath added 27 for the third wicket before a Devendra Bishoo strike further dented the visitors at 61-3.

Taking it home
Badrinath compiled 17 before he edged a cut and was caught behind by Baugh.

But Sharma forged two match-winning stands, first with Dhawan and then with his skipper Raina.

He added 43 with Dhawan, who holed out to deep midwicket soon after completing his maiden one-day 50. The Deccan Chargers left-hander struck three fours and a six.

Sharma and Raina then put on a further 80 off 87 balls to put the result beyond doubt.

Martin added the scalp of Raina and Rampaul snared Yusuf Pathan toward the end but Sharma remained to see his side home comfortably.

The second match is at the same venue on Wednesday. — Sapa-AP

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