DateLine: 26th October 2006
Shivnarine Chanderpaul hit a solid 51 to build on Ian Bradshaw's superb effort as the West Indies qualified for the the Champions Trophy semi-finals with a tense three-wicket victory over India here on Thursday.
Left-arm fast bowler Bradshaw carved out a rosy opening for his team when he grabbed three big wickets in his disciplined 10 overs to restrict India to a modest total of 223-9 in the Group-A league match.
Man-of-the-match Chanderpaul adjusted himself remarkably well on a slow track before his team overcame late hiccups to reach the target with two balls to spare for their sixth win against India in the last eight matches.
Defending champions West Indies were strongly placed at 212-3 before losing four wickets in the space of seven runs. They needed five runs in the final over before Marlon Samuels finished the game with a four off Ajit Agarkar.
Ramnaresh Sarwan (53) and Runako Morton (45) also played vital roles, adding 92 for the fourth wicket after left-handed Chanderpaul had put his team on the right track.
"It was a good win, but not a comprehensive one. It was a matured batting performance from us at top of the order," said West Indies captain Brian Lara, who was declared fit at the last minute after recovering from back spasms.
"I was not 100 per cent fit but when I came to the ground I felt okay. The victories over India and Australia in the first two matches have given us a lot of confidence."
The West Indies, who have won both of their matches in the four-team group, will now take on a winless England in their last league fixture here on Saturday.
Other semi-finalists will be the winners of India-Australia game at Mohali on Sunday as both have one victory after two matches. The top two sides advance to the last-four.
A little went right for India after they had been put in to bat in the day-night match. They batted inconsistently and then struck too late, leaving a capacity crowd disappointed.
"It was close in the end. We worked hard but were probably 20-30 runs short in the end," said India captain Rahul Dravid.
"We need to play better and get runs on slow wickets. The critical part was when we lost wickets to Bradshaw and then I got run out in the middle of the innings."
The Bradshaw-inspired attack never allowed India to build a noteworthy partnership as only wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni (51) and Dravid (49) offered resistance.
India then needed early wickets to put pressure on the West Indies, but were thwarted by Chanderpaul, who put on 43 for the opening wicket with Chris Gayle (34) and 57 for the next with Dwayne Bravo.
Chanderpaul, who missed the previous match against Australia due to food poisoning, celebrated his 200th one-day international with his 41st half-century.
India earlier batted much below their reputation in home conditions and were in danger of falling below the 200-mark mark before Dhoni played aggressively under pressure.
His first half-century in 12 matches came at a time when the hosts were struggling at 131-5 following Bradshaw's triple-strike.
Dhoni improvised brilliantly in the final overs, smashing two successive sixes off spinner Gayle before being run out. His late flourish saw India gather 42 in the last five overs.
Bradshaw then put India under pressure when he bowled Irfan Pathan for nought and star batsman Sachin Tendulkar for 29, both the batsmen dragging the ball on to their stumps after mistiming their shots.
Dravid and Yuvraj Singh steadied the innings with a 61-run stand for the fourth wicket, but fell just when it was time to consolidate.
The Indian skipper looked set to complete his first half-century in 11 matches when he was run out, beaten by Dwayne Smith's direct-throw to the striker's end.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)
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