India skipper for the ODI series Shikhar Dhawan and young opener Shubman Gill came up with a century partnership as the tourists first piled up a massive 308/7 in 50 overs before winning the nerve-wracking opening game of the three-match series by three runs at the Queen's Park Oval on Saturday (IST).
While Dhawan missed the century by just three runs, Gill, returning to the playing XI in ODIs for the first time since December 2020, played with a point to prove, scoring a magnificent 64 off just 53 balls.
The 22-year-old Gill showed tremendous class as he smashed the West Indies pacers for boundaries inside the powerplay, racing to 41 off 28 balls in the first 10 overs and bringing up his maiden ODI half-century soon off just 36 balls.
At the other end, Dhawan played second fiddle but kept scoring at a healthy rate as the duo brought up their 100-run partnership in just 14 overs. The captain too managed to get to his half-century, his 36th in ODI cricket.
With both the batters scoring at a fast clip, it needed something special to break the partnership and Nicholas Pooran came up with a brilliant direct hit to dismiss Gill for 64.
West Indies managed to slip in a few quiet overs but the pairing of Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer batted with composure to ensure the hosts didn't make any more inroads. Iyer faced a few short-pitched deliveries but tore the spinners apart.
Dhawan looked set for his 18th career ODI ton but a superb catch by Shamarh Brooks brought his innings to an end just three runs short of a century. Iyer (54) too fell soon after his fifty. With 14 overs to go, India were in complete control at 231/3 and looked on course to posting a massive total. But the West Indies bowlers fought back brilliantly to keep pegging at the wickets and pushing the visitors back.
Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel made decent contributions to take India past 300, finishing at 308/7.
Despite losing Shai Hope early in the innings, the West Indies chase was off to a great start thanks to a 117-run second-wicket partnership between Kyle Mayers (75) and Shamarh Brooks (46) who set the platform for their teammates. Brandon King (54) anchored the chase well, bringing up his third ODI fifty while constantly losing partners at the other end.
West Indies needed only 120 runs in the last 15 overs with seven wickets. They were looking at a historic run chase but the Indian bowlers had other plans. First Mohammed Siraj dismissed the dangerous Nicholas Pooran (25) and Rovman Powell (6) soon followed his captain back to the pavilion as Yuzvendra Chahal bagged the first of his two wickets.
Akeal Hosein (32 not out) and Romario Shepherd (39 not out) put a late blitz bringing their side within 38 runs off the target with the last three overs to go. Despite the late onslaught, the India pacers weathered the storm with Siraj successfully defending 15 runs in the final over.
Brief scores: India 308/7 in 50 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 97, Shubman Gill 64, Shreyas Iyer 54; Alzarri Joseph 2/61, Gudakesh Motie 2/54) beat West Indies 305/6 in 50 overs (Kyle Mayers 75, Shamarh Brooks 46, Brandon King 54, Akeal Hosein 32 not out, Romario Shepherd 39 not out) by three runs.