Windies and rain win the day
West Indies scored their first win in the DLF Cup with a little help from Messrs Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis. They beat India by 29 runs, who will consider themselves unlucky to have lost after a magnificent unbeaten 141 from Sachin Tendulkar helped them post 309. West Indies had reached 141 from 20 overs when rain came down, and steadily pitter-pattered down till play had to be called off.
That the rain came down when it did was disappointing, as the game was perfectly set up. Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan had given West Indies a good start and, with Brian Lara just getting warmed up, a good chase of a testing total was in the offing.
When Rahul Dravid won the toss and chose to bat, all eyes were on Tendulkar, who was back in the side after a lay-off through injury. However, it almost went pear shaped in the third over. Tendulkar - who had his first boundary through a half-edged half-steered stroke past the slips cordon - edged one that was headed straight to Chris Gayle's lap at first slip before Carlton Baugh dived across and parried the ball away in an attempt to take an athletic catch.
Reprieved on 5, Tendulkar helped himself to another 136, carrying his bat in an ODI for just the second time. But it was not smooth sailing all along for Tendulkar, who sported a blue brace on his left elbow as a reminder of the injury that has dogged him in the recent past. The manner in which he began - and it would be fair to describe it as edgy - gave plenty of hope to the West Indian attack. After the dropped catch Tendulkar managed to get a grip, playing two crisp straight drives that cannoned into the stumps at the non-striker's end. A trademark whip through midwicket for four settled the nerves, and India were on their way.
The pitch was not the easiest to bat on. During the first game it was merely the odd ball that had seamed extra, but here it was quite decidedly two paced. More than once the ball scooted along on the ground after pitching and more worryingly, one or two took off from a length, hitting the splice of the bat or the gloves hard.
Dravid was able to master the variable bounce, cutting out the horizontal shots after an initial cut shot when the ball was new and hard. Tendulkar went for his strokes, especially when there was a bit of width on offer but found that it was not always easy to get hold of the ball as the bounce was not true.
It was Dwayne Smith, the medium-pacer, who struck, with a fullish ball that pitched on the stumps and jagged back in quite sharply, beating Dravid's bat and thudding into pad. The ball had moved a bit off the pitch but would have struck the leg stump. Irfan Pathan walked out to bat at No.3, and at 79 for 1 from 15 overs, the players were briefly forced off the field when rain began to pelt down on the Kinrara Oval.
Pathan kept it simple, picking off the runs with some confident driving through the off side. There was little menace in the bowling and soon Pathan had enough of a measure of the pitch to back away and uppercut a six over third-man. He brought up the second half-century of the match, and only a slow Gayle delivery halted his progress, bowled for 64, ending a 125-run second wicket partnership.
Virender Sehwag stayed long enough to uppercut one crisp six, but soon got a good-length ball that scooted along the floor and crashed into the stumps. Mahendra Singh Dhoni suffered a similar fate, and suddenly it looked as though India may fall short of a genuinely big score. But Tendulkar, who was well set and had seen enough of the pitch to know what shots held the minimum risk, hit two glorious sixes over cover. The timing, transfer of weight and execution were spot on. Suresh Raina contributed a breezy 34, but the first half of the day certainly belonged to Tendulkar who got his 40th ODI century.
When West Indies came out to bat, they responded strongly, and despite the fall of Shivnarine Chanderpaul - caught at fine-leg after he mis-hit a pull - they scored at a fast clip. Sarwan and Gayle kept the foot firmly down on the accelerator and the runs came easily. Sarwan wasted no time in getting his eye in, and played some attractive drives through cover. For the second time in the innings a bowling change brought a wicket. This time it was Munaf Patel who benefited when Gayle went after a wide one that kicked a bit off a length and edged. Dhoni was quick to stretch heavenwards and snap up the catch, limiting Gayle's destruction to a 35-ball 45.
There was more beautiful strokeplay in store as Lara took a shine to Harbhajan, following up a sizzling cover-drive with a perfectly placed off drive. India were just a touch worried as West Indies breezed past hundred and showed little signs of slowing down. Then the rain came, and with no further play possible, West Indies were well ahead of the par score of 113 (for two wickets, in 20 overs). It wasn't the best way to end things, but West Indies will take it.
Rahul Dravid lbw b Smith 26 (75 for 1)
Fullish delivery that jagged back and kept low beat the bat
Irfan Pathan b Gayle 64 (200 for 2)
Missed one that was held back a touch
Virender Sehwag b Taylor 9 (223 for 3)
Bowled by one that kept very low
Mahendra Dhoni b Taylor 2 (227 for 4)
Another one that kept low sneaked under bat
Suresh Raina c Smith b Taylor 34 (295 for 5)
Heaved a short ball to midwicket
Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Patel b RP Singh 6 (32 for 1)
Mis-timed a short ball to fine-leg
Chris Gayle c Dhoni b Patel 45 (98 for 2)
Slashed at one that bounced a bit more and edged to the keeper
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo