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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Dravid ton sets up Indian win

India 254 for 5 (Dravid 105, Kaif 66*) beat West Indies 251 for 6 (Gayle 123) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

In a match dominated by two superb batting performances, Rahul Dravid marginally outshone Chris Gayle as India drew first blood in the one-day series with a thrilling five-wicket win at Kingston. Gayle's powerpacked 123 lifted West Indies to a challenging 251 after rain had lopped off five overs from the 50-over quota, but India had their answer in their captain. Dravid, opening the innings as India played with only five specialist batsmen, controlled the run-chase quite magnificently with a 102-ball 105, and despite plenty of stutters towards the end, India squeaked home with one ball to spare, with Mohammad Kaif unbeaten on a patchy 66.

A match which at one stage seemed likely to be called off without a ball being bowled eventually started after only a one-hour delay - thanks to the excellent drainage facilities at the Sabina Park - and the crowd was treated to some nail-biting action with both sides seeming to fluff their lines as the pressure mounted. With four overs to go, India needed just 25, and with Kaif already past his half-century, a victory seemed there for the taking.

Enter Jerome Taylor. His first seven overs had gone for 48, but called up to do an unenviable job, he responded magnificently, conceding just a single from six balls as Kaif struggled to get the ball off the square. Twenty-five from 24 became 24 from 18, and the mounting asking rate forced Mahendra Singh Dhoni to throw his wicket away, but in the end, Kaif still managed to finish it off, helped by generous chunks of good fortune: an edge flew past the keeper for four, a miscued hoick fell in no-man's land, and a run-out attempt in the last over just missed the mark.

Till those last 20 minutes, though, India seemed in control of the run-chase. The defining partnership was between Dravid and Kaif - the 125 runs they added, bailed India out of an iffy situation and put them in charge. Kaif played his part, but Dravid was outstanding. Right from the outset, he timed the ball superbly, with the highlight being his driving down the ground. And when the West Indian fast bowlers pitched it short, Dravid responded quite emphatically with his pull shots - one top-edge, off Fidel Edwards, went over the wicketkeeper, cleared the boundary, and landed in a puddle of water beyond the fence.

Quite typically, he controlled the middle stages of the game, nudging singles, running hard, keeping the scorecard and the strike rotating, and nursing a player who is clearly struggling for form and confidence. Kaif has been in wretched form of late, and it showed in the way he played here. To his credit, though, he eschewed the risks till the last stages of the game, and was the ideal second fiddle to Dravid.

India were also helped in their quest by some shockingly inept West Indian fielding. Kaif was let off twice - a tough chance to Brian Lara when on 6, and a sitter to Edwards on 35 - but even more than their catching, it was the ground fielding that was atrocious. Repeatedly they fumbled with the ball on a lush green outfield, converted dot balls into singles and singles into twos, gave away boundaries with shoddy outfielding, and threw the ball everywhere except to the bowler or the wicketkeeper, who, for his part, was content to stop the half-volleys with his pads instead of gathering them.

In the end Dravid took the plaudits, but Gayle's knock earlier in the day was almost at par, as he played aggressor and anchor in equal measure. He snatched the momentum first up with a flurry of boundaries, controlled the middle overs expertly at a slightly lower gear, and then turned it on again in style after he reached his hundred. Dravid had a smile on his face as the toss went his way, but the smile was quickly replaced by a frown as Gayle started a storm of his own after the downpours earlier in the day.

The first to feel the heat was Irfan Pathan, whose first spell suggested he was quite unprepared for such a prompt start to the match. Spraying the ball all over, he bowled three wides and two no-balls in his first over, which went for 14. That set the tone, as Gayle plonked his front foot down and smashed boundaries almost at will. The first ten overs yielded 74, forcing Dravid to delay the second Powerplay and introduce Harbhajan Singh into the attack early. A clever reverse-sweep showed Gayle could bludgeon as well as improvise, and despite losing a couple of quick wickets, West Indies were always in control while he was around.

India came back briefly through Harbhajan and Ajit Agarkar - easily the two best Indian bowlers on view - but then Lara came along for a useful 80-run partnership. Gayle noticeably slowed down through the second part of his innings - his first 50 took 46 balls, his next needed 70 - but the innings lost its way after he left. West Indies only managed 29 in the last five, and that, ultimately, was probably where they lost the match.

How they were out

Runako Morton c Dhoni b Agarkar 23 (87 for 1)
Nicked one in the corridor

Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw bowled Harbhajan 2 (94 for 2)
Missed a sweep and struck in front of off

Brian Lara c Kaif b Patel 35 (174 for 3)
Slapped a drive to cover

Chris Gayle c Dravid b Agarkar 123 (222 for 4)
Flicked a low catch to midwicket

Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Sehwag b Pathan 18 (233 for 5)
Good catch diving forward at long-on

Marlon Samuels run-out (Sehwag) 10 (248 for 6)
Attempting a second run which wasn't on

India

Virender Sehwag run out (Samuels) 22 (55 for 1)
Skied to mid-off and responded late for the second run

Irfan Pathan c Morton b Bradshaw 1(61 for 2)
Edged a cut to second slip

Yuvraj Singh c Samuels b Bradshaw 12 (86 for 3)
Miscued a hoick to long-off

Rahul Dravid c Taylor b Bravo 105 (209 for 4)
Lofted to long-on

Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Morton b Bravo 18 (233 for 5)
Mistimed to long-on

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