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May 28, 2006
A cavalier 62 from Dwayno Bravo propelled West Indies past 250, and three wickets apiece for the inexperienced duo of Jerome Taylor and Dave Mohammed then stymied India's run chase to ensure that Brian Lara's one-day farewell from the Queen's Park Oval would be a triumphant one. Virender Sehwag struck a magnificent, measured 95, but the inability of anyone else to go past 30 cost India dear as the West Indian bowlers overcame a mid-innings wobble to inflict another embarrassing defeat on a team that came here ranked No.3 in the world.
Having set India 256 for victory, West Indies found the unlikeliest of new-ball heroes in Wavell Hinds. Corey Collymore tweaked his ankle in the very first over, but by then India were already one down, with Robin Uthappa having played an awful shot. Hinds, who had contributed 32 with the bat earlier, then had Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing on, as his promotion to No.3 failed to make the impact that India were hoping for.
Sehwag started with a couple of flicks through midwicket for four, and though he was initially troubled by Mohammed - brought on as early as the 11th over - there were easy pickings to be had off the radar-less Taylor. A loft over cover, an exquisite square-drive and a delicate glance came in one over that fetched 19 runs, and when Mohammed was finally worked out, there was one huge six over long-off.
Rahul Dravid had already gone by then, painfully slow to respond to a Sehwag call, but Yuvraj Singh made light of a crisis situation with some gorgeously timed drives. When Bravo, West Indies' go-to man in the series, came on, Sehwag responded with a superb stroke down to the sightscreen, and he celebrated a 53-ball half-century with a meaty biff through midwicket off Dwayne Smith.
Yuvraj made effortless progress until his movement became laboured, and a beautifully disguised googly from Mohammed did him in, leaving Sehwag to shepherd the middle and lower order. The slide started with the return of Taylor, as effective in his second spell as he had been hapless in the first.
Mohammad Kaif was too early into the shot, Suresh Raina replicated his Friday dismissal, and then, most crucially, Sehwag failed to read a slower ball. After going for 40 in his first six overs, Taylor's second burst of 3 for 7 effectively settled the game. Harbhajan Singh and Ajit Agarkar took India within reach but ultimately, like the entire team in this series, they fell well short.
India had been insipid in the field as well, dropping two catches and conceding 13 wides and three no-balls in a listless display after Dravid won the toss. Both lapses turned out to be incredibly costly - Chris Gayle off the second ball of the match, and Bravo when he had made just 24. S Sreesanth was the bowler to suffer the first time, with Dhoni tipping the outside edge down to the boundary, goalkeeper style, while Agarkar was the one left shaking his head later in the innings, after Uthappa put down a relatively straightforward chance at deep square leg.
Gayle made the most of the reprieve, and Sreesanth was left fuming after being crashed through cover, lashed over midwicket and then lofted over extra-cover and mid-on. Sewnarine Chattergoon had lasted just one ball from Agarkar, but with Gayle in insouciant mood, runs came at a rapid clip. Sarwan, by contrast, started hesitantly, and was fortunate when an outside edge just evaded Raina at second slip.
Munaf Patel was initially economical without being especially penetrative, and with Gayle showing no signs of throttling back, Dravid had little option but to delay the Powerplays till the 17th over, by which time both Harbhajan and Sehwag had come on to bowl. Gayle didn't temper his approach, and a meaty swipe to midwicket and a well-executed reverse sweep from successive Sehwag deliveries took him past 50.
The very next ball, however, impetuosity got the better of him, giving India a glimmer of hope. That was the cue for delirium as Lara walked out to rapturous acclaim, and a magnificent square-drive off Harbhajan further enlivened the mood. But Sehwag's excellent spell, and Sarwan being struck a painful blow on the hand by a throw from midwicket, put the brakes on the scoring, as both batsmen found it an ordeal to time the ball effectively on a stop-start pitch. Sreesanth, who had gone for 25 in his first three overs, came back much improved, bowling two types of slower balls to confound even Lara.
Sarwan went for 52, trying to force the pace, and though Lara struck a sublime straight six off Harbhajan, Agarkar's throwing arm was to prove too much for him. He walked off with 36 to his name, waving his bat in every direction, but there was to be no respite for India as Wavell Hinds and Bravo thrilled the crowd in the final overs.
Bravo's running between the wickets was exceptional, with 10 twos scampered in his 50, and he thumped both Sreesanth and Munaf repeatedly over cover as the shackles were emphatically broken. Hinds also joined in, smashing two fours over midwicket before getting under a low full toss.
Bravo was undaunted, playing with the confidence of a man who has turned more than one game in the space of the past 10 days. His unbeaten 61 on Friday was instrumental in West Indies clinching the series. Today, he went one better, and despite a heroic innings from Sehwag, it was enough to seal an emphatic 4-1 triumph for a resurgent side.
Sewnarine Chattergoon b Agarkar 0 (8 for 1)
Shouldered arms to one that shaped back in
Chris Gayle b Sehwag 51 (90 for 2)
Went for an ungainly heave across the line
Ramnaresh Sarwan b Sreesanth 52 (137 for 3)
Charged down the track, missed completely. Off stump knocked back
Brian Lara run out (Agarkar) 36 (165 for 4)
Slipped going for the second run, caught marginally short
Wavell Hinds c Sehwag b Agarkar 32 (243 for 5)
Dragged a full toss down to deep midwicket
Dwayne Smith b Munaf 1 (251 for 6)
Yorked himself by stepping down the pitch
Robin Uthappa c Ramdin b Hinds 0 (0 for 1)
Chased one that moved away a touch, thin edge to the keeper
Mahendra Singh Dhoni b Hinds 14 (26 for 2)
Chopped one onto the stumps
Rahul Dravid run out (Mohammed) 18 (73 for 3)
Slow to respond to Sehwag's call, direct hit from the bowler
Yuvraj Singh b Mohammed 26 (130 for 4)
Beaten by the left-armer's googly
Mohammad Kaif c Gayle b Taylor 12 (170 for 5)
Stroked one straight to cover
Suresh Raina c Ramdin b Taylor 2 (180 for 6)
Slashed at a very wide one, top edge behind
Virender Sehwag c Gayle b Taylor 95 (189 for 7)
Whacked a slower ball to cover, touch catch made to look easy
Harbhajan Singh c Bradshaw (sub) b Mohammed 26 (230 for 8)
Came down the track but mistimed the hoick. Great catch running in from long-off
Munaf Patel c Chattergoon b Mohammed 0 (231 for 9)
Swept the googly straight to square leg. Good catch running in
Ajit Agarkar c Smith b Gayle 21 (236 all out)
Jumped out and struck one to deep midwicket, well taken above the head
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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