Port of Spain:
Shikhar Dhawan extended his red-hot form with an 87-run knock before rain interrupted India’s progress in the first cricket One-day International against the West Indies on Friday.
Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, included in the playing XI in place of rested Rohit Sharma, did not quite set the stage on fire but batted comfortably to raise a solid 132-run opening stand on a slowish track, not conducive for stroke-play.
They looked on course for big knocks before an innocuous looking bowling line-up from the West Indies stopped them in their tracks. India were 199 for three in 39.2 overs after being asked to bat when rains started lashing the Queen’s Park Oval.
None of the West Indies bowler troubled the Indian batsmen, who did not dominate the attack either, preferring to nudge the ball around to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Dhawan’s 87 came off 92 balls with 10 boundaries, including two shots over the ropes while Rahane took 78 balls for his 62-run knock that had eight shots to the fence.
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Yuvraj Singh was the only batsman who did not make much contribution to the Indian innings. Captain Virat Kohli (32) and MS Dhoni (9) had a finishing job to do but two rain interruptions denied them the chance.
Leg-break bowler Devendra Bishoo completed his quota of 10 overs and conceded 39 runs and also dismissed Dhawan. After reading the wicket well and mostly scoring through languid drives, Rahane raised his half-century when an edge off Miguel Cummins raced to the boundary ropes.
Dhawan too completed his fifty with a six off pacer Alzarri Joseph over deep square leg boundary. It looked easiest of the shots he played as he picked the length quite early and lofted it over the ropes.
The runs were coming at will for the Indians and suddenly there was something to cheer for the hosts as Jospeh deceived Rahane with a slower one forcing the Indian opener to miscue the shot which landed in the hands of the skipper at mid-on.
The fall of wicket brought captain Kohli to the crease and he had to negotiate some testing spin from leg-break bowler Devendra Bishoo. Dhawan though kept going strong, getting a six off Joseph and a four off Cummins to get close to the three-figure mark.
Kohli took some time to adjust to the slow nature of the wicket as initially he relied on singles. He took 20 balls to hit first boundary, which was a pull off a short and rising ball from Cummins.
Bishoo was rewarded for his hard work when he caught Dhawan plumb in front of the wicket. Dhawan played a flick but missed the line completely and was adjudged leg before wicket by Kumar Dharamsena.
Indians reviewed the decision but TV replays confirmed that the Sri Lankan umpire had called it correct. Stage was set for Yuvraj Singh (4) to get a big score with the bowlers hardly making an impact but the left-hander hit one straight to Evin Lewis off rival captain Holder.