India v West Indies, IndianOil Cup, Colombo August 7, 2005

West Indies fall short despite Ramdin's heroics

India 262 for 4 (Yuvraj 110, Kaif 83*) beat West Indies 255 for 9 (Morton 84, Ramdin 74*) by 7 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Yuvraj Singh: returned to form with a fine century © AFP

India entered the final of the IndianOil Cup after scoring a tense seven-run victory over West Indies in Colombo. A century by Yuvraj Singh and a well-paced knock by Mohammad Kaif helped India reach 262 for 4, the tournament¹s highest score, following which a fatal mixture of mounting run-rate and inexperience saw the West Indians stumble out of the competition.

Denesh Ramdin, let off luckily when he was caught plumb in front by Anil Kumble off his first ball, fought until the end, striking boundaries and inventing strokes to throw the bowlers off. Ashish Nehra went at seven an over, Zaheer Khan narrowly evaded being called off for bowling beamers. Ramdin ended unbeaten on 74, an admirable knock from a man who had kept flawlessly in the sweltering heat all afternoon. He followed Runako Morton, whose controlled 84 kept West Indies in the running until the final stretch, even while wickets fell all around him. In between there was Dwayne Smith, who crashed 26 off 12 before Kumble did him in.

Ramdin¹s wonderful innings was a fluent one, full of fight, and while he struggled to comprehend Kumble's variations, he persisted and dealt with the more straightforward bowlers with ease. Most batsmen before him failed to do even this, though their troubles against Kumble were anticipated. Kumble has a way with newcomers unused to this brand of legspin; they remain motionless in their crease, trapped by indecision, and are easily undone by a man who preys on uncertain minds. He dismissed three of them in a flash, and would have had three more if Daryl Harper saw what he, the fielders, the television, and Hawk-Eye all saw; straightforward decisions were turned down, and this assisted West Indies' survival. It is debatable whether the match would have run this close otherwise. Against a team more capable of grabbing chances, India could have suffered dearly. In any case, Rahul Dravid bowled Kumble through his quota in one go, and then watched Nehra and Yuvraj leak runs to the tune of 82 in 12 overs.

But Yuvraj was India¹s man of the hour earlier, and Kaif his support, when the team had effectively lost four batsmen and were in trouble. At 51 for 3, with Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman out, and Sourav Ganguly in hospital after a short delivery thudded into an unprotected arm, Yuvraj and Kaif had quite a task ahead. Neither the flow of the game nor their form favoured them. But bit by bit, they pulled it India's way with pinched runs and angled bats that frustrated and deflated West Indies. The slower bowlers were nudged and pushed for singles and once the time for acceleration came, the two managed it seemingly without effort. The India of the 1990s had Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh to fight fires and twist thrust swords. This team has these two. They were followed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose daring against Tino Best's 140kph deliveries - a sweep, for example - added a touch of bravado to the Indian innings. The last ten overs yielded 89 runs. But the first ten had seemed a repeat of India's most recent experiences in Sri Lanka: India managed only 24 for 2.

But it was the bowlers' accuracy and persistence that forced Ganguly's injury and the general unease early in the innings. They weren't exactly the fearsome four, the terrible three or even an ominous one, but Daren Powell, Deighton Butler and Best put on a fine show to have India hopping and falling about their crease.

Sylvester Joseph, the West Indies stand-in captain after Shivarine Chanderpaul pulled out due to illness, began with an attack of Powell's pace and Butler's swing. Sehwag and Ganguly both lost control of their feet as balls swung late and rose awkwardly. Powell, in particular, alternated between aiming for the stumps and Ganguly's ribcage. Butler rapped Sehwag's pads twice and even bowled him off a no-ball, but was finally lucky with his third appeal. After a brief stay Laxman nick one, and Dravid played a loose stroke on to his stumps.

India became the second international team to walk off a cricket field relieved today, but West Indies ran them far closer than they would have liked. The final, two days away, is an opportunity to start afresh.

How they were out


VVS Laxman c Ramdin b Powell 7 (21 for 1)
Played on the up to one that swung away and bounced, and nicked it

Virender Sehwag lbw Butler 6 (21 for 2)
Played all over a ball that swung in and struck him on the pad

Rahul Dravid b Banks 10 (51 for 3)
Inside-edged a loose delivery on to his stumps

Yuvraj Singh c Best b Deonarine 110 (216 for 4)
Wearily reverse-swept to a man posted at short fine-leg

West Indies

Xavier Marshall lbw Pathan 19 (37 for 1)
Trapped in front by one pitched on a good length that swung in

Sylvester Joseph c Harbhajan b Pathan 4 (44 for 2)
Top-edged one that pitched on a length, and sent it flying straight up

Narsingh Deonarine c Kumble b Nehra 6 (59 for 3)
Tried clearing the field to a ball pitched outside off, but only skied it

Omari Banks lbw Kumble 6 (70 for 4)
Padded up to a ball sliding on

Dwayne Smith lbw Kumble 26 (98 for 5)
Played over a straighter one

Ricardo Powell c (sub) Rao b Kumble 4 (112 for 6)
Inside-edged a googly to short-leg

Runako Morton c Dravid b Nehra 84 (195 for 7)
Flicked to midwicket

Tino Best b Sehwag 3 (208 for 8)
Wandered down the wicket and missed

Deighton Butler run out (Kaif) 9 (240 for 9)
A direct throw from long-on found its mark

Deighton Butler run out (Kaif) 9 (240 for 9)
A direct throw from long-on found its mark

Rahul Bhatia is staff writer of Cricinfo