West Indies captain Darren Sammy and fast bowler Ravi Rampaul have praised the offspinner Sunil Narine, whose performance on debut helped his team win its first match on the tour of India. Narine took 2 for 34 in the third ODI in Ahmedabad, where West Indies won by 16 runs to keep the five-match series alive at 2-1.
"It was a good fight back from the boys. The way we batted, that spell from Rampaul, [Marlon] Samuels bowled well, and the debutant Narine also. It was a team effort," Sammy said. "Narine came here [to India] in the CLT20 and bowled in the pressure situations. He's used to it, it's a role he has performed for T&T [Trinidad & Tobago]."
Narine, 23, began his spell with the new ball during the mandatory Powerplay and also bowled during the bowling and batting Powerplays. He picked up the wickets of Virat Kohli and R Ashwin, after the No. 7 batsman had added 91 runs with Rohit Sharma to bring India back into the chase.
"He [Narine] came in and did a very good job for the team. It was a great way to start your international career," Rampaul said. "He bowled early and got a key wicket and came back at the end, there, to pick up another vital wicket for us. He kept building the pressure on the Indian batsmen and it paid off for us."
Rampaul had struck body blows himself by dismissing Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir with his first two deliveries in the second over of India's chase. The hosts were 8 for 2 chasing 261 and were set back severely. Rampaul returned to dismiss Suresh Raina and then picked up the final wicket, that of Abhimanyu Mithun, to finish with 4 for 57 in 8.5 overs. Mithun had scored 23 off 16 balls, and before his dismissal, India needed 16 off 20 deliveries with one wicket in hand to win the match and the series.
"I would say getting those early breakthroughs proved to be the key point in the match, when we bowled. We got up to a good score thanks to some great batting from Sammy and Russell but we still had a big job to do with the ball," Rampaul, who was Man of the Match, said. "I am used to bowling on these slow, low wickets as they are similar to what I play on in Trinidad. Also, the experience of playing here [in India] for Trinidad & Tobago in the Champions League as well as in the World Cup has helped me a lot.
"My strategy was to bowl wicket to wicket and it was good that I got the ball to swing as well. Finally, we have a win on the tour and it means a lot to us as a team. We came close on quite a few occasions and tonight we got the reward. We will look for more in the coming matches."
Rampaul has 28 wickets at an average of 19 in 14 ODIs in 2011, and Monday's four-wicket haul came after he had broken the record for the highest score by a No. 10, an unbeaten 86 off 66 balls in the second ODI in Visakhapatnam.
That West Indies had a competitive target to defend at Motera was because of a late assault from allrounders Sammy and Andre Russell. Sammy scored 41 off 17 balls and Russell 40 off 18 as 93 runs came off the final seven overs. Sehwag, the India captain, said his bowlers had not executed their plans.
"When two big hitters like Russell and Sammy were batting, it was difficult to bowl, they were connecting well," Sehwag said. "I told my boys to bowl as many yorkers as they could. They tried but couldn't get perfect yorkers, but the team fought really well."
Sehwag, however, took responsibility for the defeat, saying the top-order collapse, which he was part of, was the most significant problem. "It is very hard to chase when your top order fails. In the last three games, our lower order's contribution has been more than the top order and we need to look at ourselves. One of the top order batsman has to bat for 30-40 overs."