KINGSTON (JAMAICA): Darren Bravo hit a career-best 86 as West Indies comfortably defeated India by seven wickets in the fifth and final ODI on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 252, Bravo's clean hitting helped West Indies reach the target in 48.4 overs to reduce the series score to 3-2. Interestingly West Indies had lost the first three ODIs against Pakistan in the earlier series before winning the last two. Cheered by local hero Chris Gayle from the stands, Bravo (86, 99 balls, 3x4, 6x6) who many believe is a 'Brian Lara clone' launched into Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra hitting as many as five out of his six sixes off the two. The Batting Powerplay proved to be the turning point for Windies as Indian bowlers gave away 57 runs between overs 43 and 47. When Bravo was finally out in the 46th over with 39 still to get, Kieron Pollard (24, 13 balls, 3x4, 1x6) and Marlon Samuels (28, 25 balls, 3x4) plundered 42 runs in only 3.3 overs to seal the issue. Credit should also be given Ramnaresh Sarwan (75 retd hurt, 94 balls, 5x4, 1x6) who anchored the innings to perfection before he couldn't carry on due to cramps. Sarwan and Bravo added 103 runs for the third wicket before the right-hander retired hurt. Bravo took his time to settle down but with wickets in hand, he waited for the batting Powerplay to explode. The other turning point was India losing seven wickets for 62 runs despite Virat Kohli's solid 94. Leaden-footed Darren Bravo sprang to life with two successive sixes off Ashwin as he scored 15 runs in the 43rd over. Mishra, the most consistent Indian bowler in the series met with similar fate as he too went for couple of sixes with 15 runs coming off it. Vinay Kumar who had a good first spell went for 11 runs, the target was reduced to 23 from the final three overs.
West Indies openers Lendl Simmons (6) and Adrian Barath (17) fell cheaply before Sarwan and Bravo began their rescue mission. Earlier, when India batted it was a case of poor shot selection by the middle and lower order batsmen after Kohli (94, 104 balls, 10x4) along with Rohit Sharma (57, 72 balls, 2x4, 1x6) laid the foundation with a 110-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Coming in to bat in the fourth over, Kohli stayed put till the 36th over to help India overcome early jitters although a fantastic piece of fielding by Sarwan from the deep robbed the batsman a chance to score his sixth international hundred. Andre Russell was the pick of the West Indian bowlers, grabbing four for 35 and his spell at the death earned him the man-of-the-match award. Indian openers Parthiv Patel (6) and Shikhar Dhawan (11) were gone by the seventh over as West Indian quicks took full advantage of the bouncy strip that was on offer. Patel was hurried onto a pull shot by a Russell bouncer and was holed out at mid-wicket. Dhawan was done in by the extra bounce as he was caught in the slips off Kemar Roach. Kohli started by clipping Russell delightfully to mid-wicket fence off the eighth ball he faced. The next boundary was rather a streaky edge past slip off Darren Sammy but he made it up with a delightful cover drive in the West Indian skipper's fourth over. Manoj Tiwary (22, 22 balls, 1x6, 1x4) looked in good nick during his short stay and a six off Sammy which hit the wooden roof of the club's bar was a breathtaking sight.
Tiwary though was unable to build on his start and edged one from Pollard behind the stumps just before the first drinks interval took place. His partnership with Kohli yielded 58 runs. India now had the best batting passage of the innings as their two best young batsmen put their wares out on display. Both looked to hit down the ground and picked up runs with ease as the 100 runs of the innings came in the 22nd over. Kohli was careful in his shot selection and hit fours off leg-spinner Anthony Martin and Andre Russell in successive overs. Kohli first bisected Martin through the backward point fence and then punched Russell through the covers. The Delhi lad reached his half century in the 23rd over with a single off Martin having faced only 63 deliveries. He celebrated it with a cheeky steer for four off Lendl Simmons. Man of the series Rohit having settled into a nice groove at the other end, slammed returning Roach over midwicket for an effortless six in the 36th over. Kohli departed in this very over when he flicked one to fine leg and hurried back for a non-existent second. Sarwan's throw was hard and accurate to wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh who found the batsman short of his crease.
Once Kohli was dismissed, there was virtually no resistance from the other batsmen.
Skipper Suresh Raina played an ill-advised lofted shot to be out in the deep off Pollard. He has often tried this shot in the series with disastrous results. The stand-in captain could manage only 74 runs in the series. Rohit completed his third fifty of the series but was cleaned by Martin trying an ugly heave. He hit two fours and a six during his 72 ball knock. Yusuf Pathan (30, 29 balls, 2x4, 1x6) looked confident for the first time in the series but again his undoing was a short ball that lifted from short of good length to kiss his edge. Russell blew away the lower order as Amit Mishra (0) was bowled trying a big hit and Ishant Sharma was castled by a yorker as India missed a chance to play 15 more deliveries.