India’s much-vaunted batting line-up collapsed on a slow track, allowing underdogs West Indies to pull of a stunning 11-run victory in the fourth cricket one-dayer here.
The West Indies, which had failed to challenge India enough in this series, scored a modest 189 for nine, but the visitors ended 11 runs short of the target.
Proven finisher Mahendra Singh Dhoni (54 off 114 balls) looked a pale shadow of his previous self and failed to steer India home despite spending considerable time at the crease.
India needed 31 runs off the last five overs with both Dhoni and Hardik Pandya (20 off 21) in the middle but the visitors were all out for 178 in 49.4 overs.
The five-match series is still locked in India’s favour at 2-1 after the opening match was rained out. The fifth and final match of the rubber will be played on July 6 in Jamaica.
From overs 35 to 43, India scored just 23 runs, making heavy weather of the chase. The 44th over by part-timer Roston Chase fetched India 16 runs that eased off the pressure a bit but the team still fell short.
West Indies captain Jason Holder (5/27) not only removed Virat Kohli (3) upfront, he also got rid of Pandya at a crucial juncture in his memorable five-wicket haul.
It was one of the slowest innings by Dhoni slowest as he took 108 balls to get to his 64th fifty in the ODIs. He scored his first boundary in the 103rd ball he faced.
The stumper-batsman eventually holed out to Alzarri Joseph at he boundary ropes off Kesrick Williams off the last ball of the 49th over, leaving the team struggling at 176 for eight.
Holder removed Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami in the last over to complete the win.
Opener Ajinkya Rahane (60) hit his fourth ODI fifty in a row in an otherwise poor batting display by top-order. He shared a 54-run partnership with Dhoni.
The visitors lost three wickets — Shikhar Dhawan (5), captain Virat Kohli (3) and Dinesh Karthik (2) — upfront but with Rahane and Dhoni both at the crease, India were still favourites to win the match.
Earlier, all-rounder Hardik Pandya (3/40) and Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav (2/31) yet again proved very effective in the middle overs while Umesh Yadav (3/36) scalped three batsmen later on in India’s dominating bowling show.
Coming into the must-win match, West Indies elected to bat and were off to a steady start but lacked character for a flourishing finish against the visitors.
Openers Evin Lewis (35) and Kyle Hope (35) put on 57 runs in a steady start for the hosts before young Pandya broke the partnership by getting rid of the latter.
Kuldeep, who has looked impressive from the beginning of his debut, made life tough tough for the West Indies batsmen with his stock ball and googlies.
Lewis tried to open his arms, going for a drive off Kuldeep, but the ball turned a bit and went straight to captain Virat Kohli at mid-wicket.
With Pandya and Kuldeep bowling in tandem accurate lines, the hosts found the going tough. Lack of application from the home batsmen made the job easier for India.
Paceman Umesh Yadav also contributed in cleaning up the middle order by scalping three batsmen.
Once the openers departed, it got worse for the West Indies, which needed a good partnership and a batsman, who could stay on the crease for a longer period.
The chinaman bowler struck for the second time when he deceived Roston Chase (25) in the air and the ball clipped the bails, leaving the team at 121 for there in 31.2 overs.
The hosts maintained a decent run-rate but now they needed to accelerate to present some challenge before the formidable batting line-up.
Pandya returned and dismissed wicket-keeper Shai Hope (25) by having him caught behind and soon Umesh Yadav had his first victim in rival captain Jason Holder (11).
Half the team was back in pavilion. The responsibility to get the side a fighting total was on Jason Mohammed and Rovman Powell.
However, both of them departed soon. Powell, attempting to hit one hard from Umesh, miscued one to Ravindra Jadeja while Mohammed hit straight to Jadeja while slashing one from Pandya.
Umesh troubled tail-enders Devendra Bishoo (15) and Ashley Nurse (4) with his fast and rising deliveries. One such ball hurried on to Nurse took an edge and Umesh caught it diving to his follow right.