MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, has said the first ODI against West Indies was closer than it looked despite the visitors' 20-run win.
"Most of the guys thought that we have won the game when they were seven wickets down but it was a mistake and hopefully we won't repeat that," Dhoni said. "It was more close than thought." India scored 339, largely owing to Yuvraj Singh's 102-ball 131.
West Indies lost their seventh wicket in the 40th over and needed 88 off the final ten. They scored 43 in the next five overs but lost David Bernard. Denesh Ramdin and Sulieman Benn scored 20 off two overs, which meant West Indies needed 25 off 18 balls to take the series lead. It was when the two batsmen fell within four balls of each other that a win looked highly unlikely. Ashish Nehra, playing his comeback game, took the crucial wickets of Bernard and Ramdin. "It was a gamble. We were thinking of giving that over to an offspinner or a pacer. Finally we chose a pacer as the ball was getting reverse-swing," Dhoni said.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle said his team should have capitalised on the good start. "We came close and the effort can't be faulted for the way we went about it," Gayle said. "We batted well. Darren [Bravo] who was making debut was also impressive. Shiv [Chanderpaul] played a top innings at the top. I think if we had won the toss we would have batted first because it is a flat track and the wicket seemed a bit dry."
Both Dhoni and Gayle gave credit to Yuvraj for India's victory. Dhoni said Yuvraj had matured as a batsman over the last two years. "We rely a lot on him. He gets big runs for us in the middle order," Dhoni said. "Once he sets in, you hope for a big score. That's what he's doing. Once he's set in, he always gives us a good score with a very good strike rate."
Gayle said once Yuvraj could be very dangerous once he was settled. "[Yuvraj] batted really well and set up a good innings for his team - on a small outfield and flat track it was difficult to contain him out there when he was on the go," Gayle said. "You have to give credit to the way Yuvraj batted. He started really slow but that goes to show the power of Yuvraj."
The second ODI is on Sunday at the same venue.