Kolkata: Rohit Sharma nicely whetted the appetite as India warmed up for the World Twenty20 with a 45-run canter over the West Indies.
India's Rohit Sharma in action during a practice game against West Indies at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Thursday. Pic/PTI
The 29-year-old continued his love affair with the Eden Gardens with a 57-ball 98 that had India scoring 185 for six in their 20 overs. But for a brief period, when openers Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle put on 36 in 21 balls, the Caribbeans never looked like they would chase down the total. They managed 140.
Rohit, who has a ODI double hundred and has led Mumbai Indians to their two IPL titles at the ground, confirmed both current form and class with another delightful innings that had nine boundaries and seven sixes.
The West Indian reply flattered to deceive. Johnson (18 off 13) and Gayle (20 off 11) sent India's experiment of opening from both sides with spinners (Ashwin and Harbhajan) for a six. It was almost significant that Jasprit Bumrah, India's new kid on the blocks, should end the marauding partnership by bringing one back to slip through Gayle's gate.
It signalled the beginning of the end as left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Pawan Negi, bowling in tandem, broke the back of the West Indian batting. As wickets fell, and the asking rate mounted, the visitors slipped deeper into desperation and, after a token resistance from the tailenders, it was all over with a whimper in 19.2 overs.
Negi and Jadeja came back with a couple of wickets each, and it will be Mohammed Shami, coming back from a long injury lay-off, was under the scanner. The pacer eased his way in and was soon into his stride but that persistent length and late movement eluded him till he came back for the second spell. He'll take the 4-0-30-2 he returned and Dhoni will be happy another potent pacer is coming into his own.
Yuvraj chips in too
While Rohit played a classy knock to the delight of the 25,000 that turned up on the terraces, Yuvraj Singh chipped in with a light-and-shade 31 off 20 balls and Shikhar Dhawan scored 21 off 17, both slamming three boundaries and a six each.
Ajinkya Rahane couldn't make the most of another chance, coming in at one-drop but being stumped off left-am spinner Sulieman Benn, who looked the best Windies bowler, but took a brilliant catch in the outfield to remind he is still in the mix.
India 185-6 in 20 overs (R Sharma 98*, Y Singh 31; J Taylor 2-26, S Benn 2-30) beat West Indies 140 in 19.2 overs (C Gayle 20, A Russell 19, J Charles 18; P Negi 2-15, H Pandya 2-25) by 45 runs