India sealed a tense six wicket Duckworth/Lewis victory off the penultimate delivery in a match which must hold some obscure record for the most rain interruptions. Chasing 186 for victory from 27 overs, the Indian target was reduced to 159 from 22 overs after the fifth rain interruption.
Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, marshalled his team to victory with an unbeaten 46 from 34 balls with two boundaries and one maximum to secure the Man of the Match title and win himself a Blackberry Storm from the series sponsor.
At the outset of their run chase, top scorer and makeshift opener Dinesh Karthik (47 from 43b, 5×4, 1×6), and Gautam Gambhir (44 from 38b, 2×4) set the victory march on a firm foundation as they put on 84 before Karthik – a regular wicketkeeper who has been thrust into the opening role in the absence of the injured Virender Sehwag – was dismissed by lanky left arm spinner, Sulieman Benn (5-0-31-1).
The Indian run chase received a further boost in the 14th over when rain stopped play for the umpteenth time. At that stage, after 13.3 overs India were 95 for 1 needing 186 from 27 overs.
At the resumption of the Third Digicel One Day International at the Beausejour Cricket Ground, their target was reduced to 159 and they effectively needed 64 runs from 51 deliveries. With nine wickets in hand, they held the clear advantage.
Dhoni played as intelligently as he had done in his innings of 95 in the previous game at Sabina Park and an Indian victory seemed a certainty until the end of a phenomenal 21st over by the irrepressible Dwayne Bravo (4-0-27-1). With 16 runs needed from 12 balls, Bravo sent down six deliveries at the cost of five miserly runs plus the wicket of Rohit Sharma (11 from 9b) who tried to get India out of the red by attempting a big heave.
It meant that the visitors were set back, they then needed 11 runs from the last over. Windies skipper, Chris Gayle, chose Jerome Taylor (3.5-0-39-0) to bowl the over and after a single from the first delivery, Dhoni effectively secured the win with a huge six into the stands off the next. With four runs from four balls needed, a double and two singles formalised the triumph.
Play only commenced after a more than two hour delay by which time the game was reduced to 41 overs per side. Dhoni’s opposite number, Gayle, started in a manner reminiscent of a runaway freight train. Within three and a half overs, he had scored all of the Windies’ 27 runs. The big left hander needed only 13 balls to hit six fours before the second weather intervention. When he returned to the crease the game had been reduced to 39 overs and he lasted only one more ball, being out caught behind to Ashish Nehra who ended with 3 wickets for 21 runs from 5 overs.
Despite being plagued by two more stoppages, shaving the game down to 36 overs, then again reducing it to 27 overs, top scorer, Ramnaresh Sarwan (62 from 59b, 5×4, 1×6), hitting the ball with a crispness indicative of his class, rallied to put on 51 for the second wicket with opener Runako Morton (22), and 47 with his fellow Guyanese, Shiv Chanderpaul (15).
Sarwan’s run out left the score on 135 for 4 in the 21st over and it pegged the home side back. However the Bravo brothers, Darren (21 from 15b, 3×4) and Dwayne (14), batting together for the first time in an international match, added 35 from 26 balls to push the score up to one which could have been considered challenging.
In the end it was, as Gayle mentioned in the post match press conference, a shade too few and the Indians had fewer interruptions during their innings to contend with allowing them to get home with only minor scares induced by the spectacular senior Bravo who can hardly be kept out of the action.
India have moved ahead in the four match Digicel Series 2-1 with the final encounter slated for Sunday at the same venue.