Dhoni's late surge takes India to 268/7 against West Indies
Manchester: Mahendra Singh Dhoni scratched around for the better part of his innings before exploding in the final over to take India to 268 for 7 against West Indies in a World Cup encounter here Thursday.
There has been a lot of talk about Dhoni's failure to rotate the strike and Thursday's batting effort on another dry and slow track will only amplify the criticism before he got 16 in the final over to finish on 56 off 61 deliveries with three fours and two sixes.
More than his strike-rate, his percentage of dot balls remains a concern for India.
If India played 152 dot balls against Afghanistan, the run-less delivery count was 163 in this game.
It was Pandya, whose 46 off 38 balls took India past 250-run mark after skipper Virat Kohli (72 off 82 balls) scored his fourth half-century.
The middle-order looked jittery again with skipper Kohli not getting enough support from the other batsmen and in the process missing out on a fourth chance of a hundred in the tournament.
In fact Dhoni's rustiness rubbed off a bit on the Indian captain, who ultimately gifted his wicket to his opposite number. Kohli hit eight boundaries with stand-out shot being a lofted drive over covers off Oshane Thomas.
Veteran Kemar Roach (3/36) bowled fast and fuller length deliveries using the off-cutters to good effect while skipper Jason Holder (2/33 in 10 overs) was economical, troubling the batsmen with back of the length deliveries.
Left-arm spinner Fabian Allen (0/52 in 10 overs) didn't get any wicket but a crucial aspect of his spell was the last five overs in which he gave away only 15 runs. This was another left-arm spinner after Mitchell Santner and Shakib Al Hasan, who has now troubled Dhoni with his wicket-to-wicket bowling.
When Holder and Roach bowled fast and back of length, the former India captain found it difficult to manoeuvre the bowling.
At the start, Rohit Sharma (18) was getting into the groove with a pulled six off Roach but a back of length delivery moved inwards after pitching and Hope took a catch which looked debatable as even the ultra-edge for DRS couldn't give a decisive picture.
However, the Indian vice-captain was given out and he was visibly unhappy as he walked back.
Rahul once again looked shaky while playing a few good drives in between. But never during the partnership of 69 with Kohli could he dominate the Caribbean bowlers.
It took a beauty from Holder to dismiss Rahul as he angled a fuller delivery into the batsman to hit the top of the off-stump. His 48 off 64 balls had six boundaries.
Vijay Shankar is yet to prove his utility as a potent number four as Roach bowled one that straightened after pitching and the edge was taken by Hope behind the stumps.
Kedar Jadhav was rightly promoted up the order but 7 off 10 is all he got before edging one to Hope as Dhoni joined Kohli.