Losing start for champs
Lethargic Windies stumble in title defence
DHAKA, Bangladesh (CMC) — Title-holders West Indies produced an anaemic all-round performance to crash to a seven-wicket loss to India as the defence of their World Twenty20 title hit an immediate snag here yesterday.
Sent in at Shere Bangla National Stadium, West Indies struggled to find momentum after finding their power-hitters shackled by India's accurate seam and spin attack, and had to settle for an inadequate 129 for seven.
Opener Chris Gayle battled to a top-score of 34 from 33 balls, while Lendl Simmons chipped in with 27 from 22 balls and were the only two batsmen to get past 20.
Left-arm spinner Ravi Jadeja picked up three for 48 and Man-of-the-Match leg-spinner Amit Mishra claimed three for 18, to derail the West Indies innings.
In reply, India paced their innings and reached their target in a canter off 19.4 overs, with opener Rohit Sharma (62 not out) and stroke-maker Virat Kohli (54) carving out half-centuries.
West Indies were given early hope of a come-from-behind win when leg-spinner Samuel Badree knocked over Shikhar Dhawan in the first over without scoring, with just one on the board.
But Rohit and Kohli combined in a 106-run, second-wicket stand to erase any chance of a surprise India defeat.
The loss leaves West Indies needing crucial victories against Bangladesh tomorrow and Australia next Friday, in order to reignite their campaign.
The tone of the Windies innings was set by India's new ball pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami who found generous movement under the lights, tied down openers Gayle and Dwayne Smith, and allowed just 18 runs off the first five overs.
Gayle and Smith, though, put on 38 off 47 balls, but mostly played and missed.
Smith, especially, never came to terms with either seam or spin, and his two swept boundaries off off-spinner Ravi Ashwin were the only highlight of his painful 11 off 29 balls, before he chipped a tame return catch to the same bowler to end his misery.
Gayle, dropped before he had scored by Ashwin at slip and then again on 19 by Yuvraj Singh at mid-wicket off a skyer, rode his luck to smash two leg-side sixes and a four but never looked settled.
Mishra, introduced after six overs, made life even more difficult for West Indies, drying up the scoring and leaving the Caribbean side languishing at 46 for one at the half-way point.
Desperation led to Gayle's demise as Marlon Samuels stroked Mishra to point and set off for an impossible run, leaving Mohammed Shami to formalise the outcome with an easy throw to wicketkeeper MS Dhoni with Gayle well short of his ground.
Going nowhere at 62 for two at the end of the 13th over, things grew worse when three wickets tumbled for 12 runs in the space of 10 balls. A strangely out-of-sorts Samuels charged Mishra, missed and was neatly stumped for 18 off 22 balls and Dwayne Bravo departed first ball, playing around a googly and falling lbw.
Captain Darren Sammy averted the hat-trick, slamming two fours in scoring 11, while adding a precious 23 for the fifth wicket with Simmons.
The partnership looked promising before Sammy too perished, holing out on the ropes at long-off off Jadeja with the Windies still short of a hundred at 97 for five in the 18th over.
Simmons was given a life when he was caught in the deep off a Jadeja no-ball in the 18th over, and Andre Russell (7) deposited the resulting free hit over wide long on for six.
However, Russell was tied down in the penultimate over bowled by Mishra that cost just two runs, and was then taken at deep mid-wicket off the first ball of the final over bowled by Jadeja, attempting to clear the ropes.
Simmons promptly whacked successive sixes down the ground off the next two balls before skying to point, and Sunil Narine belted his first delivery over mid-wicket for another maximum, as West Indies frenetically gathered 21 from the final over - the most productive of the innings.
When Dhawan played back and unluckily adjudged lbw to Badree, the Windies scented a comeback but Rohit and Kohli played superbly to end the game as a contest.
Rohit spanked five fours and two sixes off 55 balls, while Kohli stroked five fours and a six off 41 balls, to put India within sight of victory.
There was, therefore, little rejoicing when Kohli missed a heave and was bowled by Russell in the 15th over and India milked 20 runs from the next 24 balls, to enter the final over requiring a single run.
Yuvraj's departure with the scores tied and three deliveries left, offered only cosmetic excitement.