Replying to the tourists’ formidable total of 300 for five, the home team were 200 for one in the 28th over when spectators threw objects on the field. The teams went off the field and the police attempted to clear the troublesome area of the Madhavrao Scindia Stadium. However, fading light made a resumption impractical and India were declared winners by 81 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis scoring system. The West Indies still lead the seven-match series 2-1 but concerns are increasing over the fate of the remaining matches given that crowd trouble has marred the opening three fixtures.
Before the interruption, Virender Sehwag and Saurav Ganguly had the capacity crowd in raptures with a spectacular assault on the Caribbean bowlers. Needing to score at a run-a-ball to avoid going 3-0 down in the series, the opening pair smashed 196 off just 27 overs before Ganguly fell to a stunning catch by Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid-off off the bowling of medium-pacer Vasbert Drakes.
Sehwag, who took the Man-of-the-Match award, raced to his century off just 75 balls with 14 fours and two sixes. He was unbeaten on 114 at the abandonment, revelling in his dominance of bowlers who had previously caused him great discomfort with a line of attack about the body. Ganguly’s knock followed a similarly attacking 78 in the second match in Nagpur, representing a return to form that will be an ominous sign for the visitors for the rest of the series.
Ramnaresh Sarwan continued his fine run of form with a topscore of 84, sacrificing the chance for a first senior international century in the search for quick runs off the final few overs. He put on 149 for the fourth wicket with fellow Guyanese Chanderpaul, who contributed 74 before a miscued straight drive off Harbhajan Singh was well caught by Jai Prakash Yadav within a metre of the long-off boundary. Both players bristled with aggression, each smashing two sixes to follow up their match-winning partnership of three days earlier.
The pair had taken a page out of Chris Gayle’s book, for the opener set the tone with another bludgeoning 72 off just 68 deliveries. He lost fellow Jamaican Wavell Hinds to a slip catch off Javagal Srinath while another compatriot, Marlon Samuels, had his first failure since the Third Test when he guided a Ganguly delivery into wicketkeeper Rahul Dravid’s gloves. Those setbacks hardly caused Gayle to break stride and he looked destined for a second consecutive hundred when he dragged an attempted pull off Harbhajan onto his stumps.
Nagpur knock-out: In the second odi Chris Gayle led another impressive run chase as the West Indies defeated India by seven wickets with four balls to spare at the Vidharba C.A. Ground in Nagpur to take a 2-0 lead in the seven-match series.
The powerfully-built Jamaican left-hander smashed 103, his second odi century, to provide the solid platform for a successful assault on India’s formidable total of 279 for nine.
Gayle and Marlon Samuels put on 134 for the second wicket to wrest the issue for the West Indies. When both departed, it was left to the Guyanese duo of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul with contrasting unbeaten knocks of 39 to see the Caribbean side home. Heavy early-morning dew delayed the start by half-an-hour, reducing the match to 48 overs per side. It became a 47-over affair during the course of the Indian innings as spectators in one section of the capacity 42,000 crowd threw objects onto the field, forcing Sarwan to scamper to the middle for safety. Though the situation did not deteriorate to the level of the first match in Jamshedpur on Wednesday, play was held up for ten minutes as match referee Mike Procter held discussions with the two captains out in the middle and local officials deployed additional security personnel in the troublesome spots to defuse the threat of a major disruption. Needing to score at six runs per over from the outset, Gayle and Wavell Hinds were off to their trademark flying start before Hinds drove once too often at Javagal Srinath and was caught at mid-off for 27.
India must have regained some confidence after Rajkot’s performance though Ganguly still needs to do some thinking about his bowling department. Ganguly may imagine himself as Sunil Babu from the paints ad. After wrapping up the Test matches only to fall behind 2-1 in the one-dayers, Saurav must be telling himself just the same: badhiyan hai. Except for the crowd behaviour that is catching on like an epidemic.