Dhoni, bowlers give India unassailable series lead

North Sound (Antigua) :Mahendra Singh Dhoni And the bowlers fashioned India’s 93-run win over a lacklustre West Indies in the third ODI, giving the visitors an unassailable lead in the five-match series here.

India overcame a bad start to post 251 for four on a slowish surface, largely due to the efforts of Dhoni (78 no off 79), Kedar Jadhav (40 no off 26) and Ajinkya Rahane (72 off 112).

The Indian bowlers then proved too good for the inexperienced West Indies’ batting line-up, dismissing the hosts for 158 in 38.1 overs.

Hardik Pandya (2/32) used the short ball effectively while chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (3/41) was impressive again, foxing the opposition with his wrong ones. Offie Ravichandran Ashwin (3/28), on a comeback trail after injury, troubled the batsmen with his accuracy.

India now lead the series 2-0 after the series opener was washed out. The fourth ODI will also take place at the Sir Vivian Richards here on Sunday.

The West Indies had a good opportunity to prove their mettle after a decent effort with the ball. However, the batting let them down again as it found the going tough against both pacers and spinners.

Umesh Yadav (1/32) swung the ball beautifully in his opening spell. It took him just two balls to strike as he bowled left-hander Evin Lewis with a fast inswinger.

Hope brothers, Shai (24) and debutant Kyle (19), then added 45 runs for the second wicket before falling to the short-pitch tactics of Pandya.

With five down for 87 in the 20th over, it looked all but over for the home team.

The consolation for the West Indies was the 54-run stand for the sixth wicket between Rovman Powell (30) and Jason Mohammed (40). But the remaining slim hopes were dashed with Kuldeep getting Powell caught at deep midwicket off a wrong one.

Earlier, Indian batsmen found the run-scoring tough before Rahane and Dhoni took India past the 250-run mark.

Jadhav too played his part well while batting alongside Dhoni as India amassed 100 off the last 60 balls.

It was not a surprise that West Indies captain Jason Holder chose to put the opposition in to bat after overnight rain left moisture in the pitch, also delaying the match start by 45 minutes.

The wicket offered spongy bounce early on and its slowness made batting difficult. The heavy rain last night also made the outfield slow.

The conditions led to India feeling the heat for the first time in the series with the in-form Shikhar Dhawan (2) and skipper Virat Kohli (11) back in hut by the 10th over, leaving the visitors at 34 for two.

Dhawan was caught while trying to guide a short ball off Miguel Cummins over the third man boundary.

Kohli was out to a brilliant catch by debutant Kyle Hope at gully after the premier batsman poked at a Holder delivery that rose off the pitch sharply.

Last match’s centurion Rahane then resurrected the innings alongside Yuvraj Singh (39 off 55) as the duo shared a 66-run stand.

However, with the odd ball stopping on the batsmen, run scoring did not get any easier as the innings progressed.

When Yuvraj fell lbw to leggie Devendra Bishoo (1/38) after a successful review, India were 100 for three in 26.2 overs.

What followed was a 70-run stand between Rahane and Dhoni.

Rahane, playing in place of the rested Rohit Sharma, continued from where he left off at Port of Spain.

Strokemaking was tough but the Mumbai batsman still found a way to score his 18th ODI half century, and his third 50- plus score in as many games.

His innings comprised just four boundaries, showing it was all hard work out in the middle.

Dhoni took the innings forward after Rahane perished to a spectacular running catch from Bishoo in the deep, making it 170 for four in 42.2 overs.

The onus was on Dhoni to provide the final flourish and he did that in his trademark style .

He completed his 63rd ODI half century with a single. The former India captain had hit only three fours until then but need of the hour was the big hits from his bat.

He finally cut loose in the 47th over, smashing Holder for consecutive sixes, one over the bowler’s head and the other over square leg after picking it from outside off.

Jadhav too supported him well in the death overs, smashing four boundaries and a six.