Shikhar Dhawan, India’s ODI captain, and young opener Shubman Gill put on a century partnership as the tourists piled up a massive 308/7 in 50 overs before winning the nerve-wracking first game of the three-match series by three runs at Queen’s Park Oval on Saturday (IST).
While Dhawan fell three runs short of the century, Gill, who was named to the ODI squad for the first time since December 2020, played with a point to prove, scoring a magnificent 64 off just 53 balls.
The 22-year-old Gill smashed the West Indies pacers for boundaries inside the powerplay, racing to 41 off 28 balls in the first 10 overs and quickly reaching his maiden ODI half-century off just 36 balls.
Dhawan, on the other hand, played second fiddle but continued to score at a healthy rate as the duo reached their 100-run partnership in just 14 overs. The captain also reached his half-century, his 36th in ODI cricket.
With both batters scoring at a rapid pace, something special was required to break the partnership, and Nicholas Pooran delivered with a brilliant direct hit to dismiss Gill for 64.
West Indies managed a few quiet overs, but Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer batted with poise to ensure the hosts didn’t make any further inroads. Iyer faced a few short-pitched deliveries but tore through them.
Dhawan appeared to be on his way to his 18th career ODI century, but a superb catch by Shamarh Brooks ended his innings just three runs short of a century. Iyer (54) also died soon after turning fifty. With 14 overs to go, India were in complete control at 231/3 and appeared to be on track for a massive total. The West Indies bowlers, on the other hand, fought back valiantly to keep pegging at the wickets and pushing the visitors back.
Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel made significant contributions to help India surpass 300 points, finishing at 308/7.
Despite losing Shai Hope early in the innings, the West Indies chase got off to a flying start thanks to a 117-run second-wicket stand between Kyle Mayers (75) and Shamarh Brooks (46), who laid the groundwork for their teammates. Brandon King (54) led the chase well, scoring his third ODI fifty despite losing partners at the other end.
With seven wickets, West Indies needed only 120 runs in the final 15 overs. They were aiming for a record-breaking run chase, but the Indian bowlers had other ideas. Mohammed Siraj dismissed the dangerous Nicholas Pooran (25) first, and Rovman Powell (6) quickly followed his captain back to the pavilion as Yuzvendra Chahal took the first of his two wickets.
Akeal Hosein (32 not out) and Romario Shepherd (39 not out) put a late blitz bringing their side within 38 runs off the target with the last three overs to go. Despite the late onslaught, the India pacers weathered the storm with Siraj successfully defending 15 runs in the final over.
(Inputs from IANS)