SHIKHAR Dhawan scored his second successive century as India hammered West Indies to move into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy and send Pakistan packing.
Dhawan, who scored 114 against South Africa last week, hit an unbeaten 102 as India coasted to an easy eight-wicket win at The Oval. Darren Sammy scored a rapid unbeaten 56 following Johnson Charles’ impressive 60, but the West Indies could only post a poor total of 233, thanks mainly to Ravindra Jadeja’s maiden five-wicket haul in one-day internationals.
From the minute they started their reply, India never looked like losing. Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (52) shared an opening stand of 101 and Virat Kohli chipped in with 22 before Dhawan and Dinesh Khartik (51 not out) guided the Indians to their target with just under 11 overs to spare. The result means India are now guaranteed to progress from Group B, while their biggest rivals Pakistan, whom they face on Saturday at Edgbaston, can not make the last four.
West Indies seamer Kemar Roach put on a superb masterclass in how to open the bowling against Pakistan last week, but he and Ravi Rampaul were on the back foot from the start yesterday. Dhawan and Sharma averaged well over five an over in the early stages. Sunil Narine and Sammy entered the attack but made little impact as the opening pair motored past 100 in the 16th over.
Sharma had just reached his half century when he was caught behind by Charles, who was keeping wicket in the absence of suspended Denesh Ramdin, off Narine.
Kohli scored four boundaries in 18 balls before playing on to his own stumps with the score at 127.
Karthik had an incorrect dismissal against himself overturned and India passed 150 in the 23rd over.
The umpires decided to keep the teams on the pitch even though drizzle began to fall while India were in cruise control.
India brought the 200 up in the 35th and heavier showers then began to fall, causing Aleem Dar and Tony Hill to bring the players off. They returned half an hour later and Dhawan brought his ton up with a six over third man off Dwayne Bravo before Khartik passed 50 with the winning runs – a four over the covers.
Earlier in the day, former West Indies captain Chris Gayle scored a quickfire 21 before his opening partner Charles carried on in the same vein, reaching 60 off 55 balls before being trapped lbw by Jadeja to leave the score at 103 for two.
Sammy provided some fireworks at the end, hammering five fours and four sixes to give the Windies a glimmer of hope, but it was not enough as India cruised to their target with ease.
Meanwhile, stand-in skipper George Bailey has called on Australia to pull together in the continued absence of regular captain Michael Clarke.
Clarke is still in London receiving intensive treatment on his troublesome back injury, meaning Bailey will again lead the side in today’s must-win Champions Trophy clash against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
Victory would put the reigning champions in with a chance of progressing to the semi-finals, while defeat would almost certainly mean an early exit from Group A.
Former Saltires batsman Bailey acknowledges that Clarke’s persistent problems make life harder for his side, but knows it is vital for others to step out of his shadow. “It’s something we’ve been preparing for,” he said.
“I don’t think Pup [Clarke] was ever going to come in and play a game without having trained, so I think everyone assumed what was going on.
“He’s our captain and our best batsman. We miss him every time he’s not with us. But the challenge is for someone to step up and fill the hole, or numerous people to fill the hole.”
New Zealand have injury issues of their own. Grant Elliott is missing again with a calf problem and former captain Daniel Vettori will be face a fitness test in the morning after making his long-awaited comeback against Sri Lanka.