Manchester: Indian bowlers led by the deadly Mohammed Shami produced yet another splendid performance to put their team on the cusp of a semifinal berth with a 125-run rout of the West Indies in their sixth World Cup encounter here on Thursday.
With 11 points, India are now almost through and another win in their next three games will seal their position in the top four as West Indies were knocked out with two games remaining.
India scored 268 for 7, riding on half-centuries by Virat Kohli (72 off 82 balls) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (56 off 61 balls) and it turned out to be good enough as West Indies were shot out for 124 in only 34.2 overs.
Shami (4/16 in 6.2 overs) was at his best in the first spell as he first bounced Chris Gayle out and then bowled an off-cutter to remove Shai Hope. In his second spell, he got Shimron Hetmyer while new ball partner Jasprit Bumrah (2/9 in 6 overs) was fast and accurate getting two wickets of successive deliveries.
Kuldeep Yadav (1/35 in 9 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/39 in 7 overs) were too hot for the Caribbean batsmen on a track where run scoring became increasingly difficult with passage of time.
The last seven wickets fell for 63 runs in a space of 14 overs which indicated the Caribbean plight.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with his incisive swing bowling, has always been Chris Gayle’s (6 off 19 balls) nemesis but it was in-form Shami, who drew first blood with a short ball that climbed on the big man and the mistimed pull was taken by Kedar Jadhav, running sideways from his mid-on position.
Hope, West Indies’ next big hope, got one from Shami that came in breaching his defence.
Sunil Ambris (31, 40 balls) and Nicholas Pooran (28 off 50 balls) steadied the ship with a 55-run stand before both were dismissed in quick succession — Hardik Pandya trapped Ambris plumb in-front before Pooran mistimed a lofted shot to Shami in the deep.
When India batted, Dhoni scratched around for the better part of his innings before exploding in the final over to take India to 268 for 7 on a track that look good for batting.
There has been a lot of talk about Dhoni’s failure to rotate the strike and Thursday’s batting effort on another dry and slow track will only amplify the criticism before he got 16 in the final over to finish on 56 off 61 deliveries with three fours and two sixes. More than his strike-rate, his percentage of dot balls remains a concern for India. If India played 152 dot balls against Afghanistan, the run-less delivery count was 163 in this game. It was Pandya (46 off 38 balls) who took India past 250-run mark.