PORT-OF-SPAIN // India captain Virat Kohli stroked 102 off 83 balls Friday to lead India to victory over West Indies in a rain-affected fourth one-day cricket international of the Celkon Mobile Cup at Queen's Park Oval.
The 24-year-old batsman, leading in the absence of the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, smashed 13 fours and two sixes for his 14th one-day ton that helped guide the visitors to 311-7 off 50 overs.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan, with 69 off 76 deliveries, and Rohit Sharma, who contributed 46 off 78 balls, set the early platform in an opening stand of 123.West Indies' reply never got the necessary momentum and the team was bowled out for 171 off 34 overs to lose by 102 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-29), Umesh Yadav (3-32) and Ishant Sharma (2-30) led the way for India.The hosts had been stuttering at 56-2 off 10 overs when a rain shower caused a delay of an hour and a half and resulted in a reduced target of 274 off 39 overs.
The victory was set up by India's huge total after they were sent in front of a crowd of close to 15,000. Dhawan was the more enterprising opener at the start, playing some authentic strokes through the off side as India built a base to reach 39 off the first 10 overs.
Sharma grew in confidence and the pair began to flourish once the shine went off the two new balls. Their stand reached 123 in 23 overs before the hosts struck back with a clatter of wickets mid-innings.
Kemar Roach made a crucial breakthrough in the first over of his second spell, as Dhawan holed out to deep midwicket. The left-hander hit eight fours and two sixes.Sharma followed soon afterwards edging to Denesh Ramdin behind the stumps from Tino Best's first ball of his new spell at 141-2.
When Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik went cheaply, to Marlon Samuels and Best respectively, India was stuggling at 168-4 in the 36th over.Raina edged a big turning off-break to slip while Karthi gloved a hook to Ramdin. Murali Vijay dominated a stand of 42 off 28 balls with his skipper to revive the innings. The right-hander slammed 27 off 18 balls with five fours.
But when he departed to Kieron Pollard and Ravindra Jadeja was run out, the innings was at the crossroads at 222-6 with eight overs remaining.
Kohli, who got to fifty off 55 balls, ensured a grandstand finish as he raced to his 14th one-day ton in the final over, off 81 balls.He found an able ally in Ravichandran Ashwin, who hit an unbeaten 25 of 18 balls with three fours.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar undermined the West Indies chase with the scalps of Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo inside the first five overs.
Both batsmen fell to edges, Gayle caught by the wicketkeeper and Bravo gobbled up by Ashwin at slip at 25-2.Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels consolidated either side of the rain break, but the innings collapsed when Ishant Sharma removed Samuels to another wicketkeeper's catch and Kieron Pollard fell cheaply to Kumar. When Charles, who hit six fours and two sixes to top-score with 45 off 39 balls, was caught off Ishant, India was well on top at 69-5.Umesh Yadav kept the visitors' grip with the wickets of Denesh Ramdin, captain Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy.
There was brief resistance from tailenders Kemar Roach, who scored a career-best 34, and Sunil Narine, who scored 21. The pair added 58 from 56 balls for the ninth wicket.But left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets in two balls to finish off the match and ensure India got a bonus point and kept alive their chances of qualifying for Thursday's final.