Captain Rahul Dravid hit a superb century to guide India to a thrilling five-wicket victory over the West Indies in the rain-hit first One-Day International at Sabina Park, Jamaica on Thursday.
Chasing the West Indies target of 252, India were home off the second last ball of the 45 over-a-side match.
Mohammad Kaif, who struggled for runs, hit the winning boundary to finish unbeaten on 66 in India’s total of 254 for five.
Dravid hit 105 off 102 balls, his 12th one-day century, and shared a 123-run fourth-wicket partnership with Kaif.
Earlier, opener Chris Gayle hammered 123, which was studded with 18 fours and two sixes, to anchor the West Indies to 251 for six after India had won the toss and elected to field.
Gayle’s 132 balls essay left Dravid ruing his decision to put the hosts in, before his bowlers put the skids under the West Indies.
The tall left-hander smashed 18 fours and two sixes but found little support from the rest of the team, with captain Brian Lara being the second top scorer with 35.
Ajit Agarkar was the pick of the bowlers for India with two for 38 while Harbhajan Singh returned an economical 1-33.
Irfan Pathan (1-52) and Munaf Patel (1-48) too came back for tidy second spells after being carted all over the park with the new ball.
The game was curtailed to 45-overs-a-side, but it was a negligible loss considering the heavy rain that lashed Sabina Park last night and early morning today.
India’s captain Rahul Dravid gambled on the moisture and green look of the wicket to opt to field first but his bowlers wilted early in sapping heat and on a slowish wicket.
Irfan Pathan began with three wides and two no-balls, and by the third over had been hit for four fours by Gayle.
Munaf Patel was steered, on driven and lofted over the infield and Rudra Pratap Singh, brought in to bowl in the seventh over, had three fours taken off him in one over.
Gayle raised his half-century from 46 balls with 11 fours before the Indians clawed their way back with two wickets in four overs.
Ajit Agarkar, the most impressive of lot, provided the first breakthrough in the 14th over when he induced an edge from Morton to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Harbhajan Singh then won a leg-before shout against Ramnaresh Sarwan as West Indies slipped to 94 for 2 in the 17th over.
Harbhajan slipped into a groove early and bowled a maiden over to Lara but, overall, the tourists were affected by the sapping conditions.
Lara then fell to a sharp catch by Mohammad Kaif, who latched on to a full-blooded shot off Munaf at cover.
Gayle slowed down at the approach of the three-figure mark, which he reached through a single from an inside edge.
The wiry Jamaican celebrated his 12th career hundred, and fourth against India, with another huge six and two more fours before Dravid came up with a stunner at midwicket off his on drive against Agarkar.
Virender Sehwag then produced a brilliant diving catch at long on to send back Shivnarine Chanderpaul (18) before a quick pick and throw ran out Marlon Samuels (10).
The talented Carlton Baugh then swung Pathan over midwicket for a stunning six to make sure the hosts crossed the 250 mark.
Source:Rediff.comMore on:India in West Indies 2006, Jamaica, Rahul Dravid, Sabina Park
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