Jodhpur: Stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid was relieved India managed to hold on for a three-wicket win after making heavy weather of their 202-run target in the sixth one-day International against West Indies on Thursday.
India recovered after a top-order collapse early on and a middle-order slump before the 35th over to level the seven-match series 3-3.
“We lost a few wickets early, then we had a good partnership and lost three more crucial wickets,” Dravid said. “We certainly made it more difficult than we should have. But we got through, that’s what is important in the end.”
Dravid top-scored with 58 to rescue the team from 48 for three in a 99-run stand with Yuvraj Singh, who chipped in with 54. But they fell in quick succession with the total on 147 as West Indies got back into the game.
“I would have liked us to play more professionally. Yuvraj and I should have carried on for 25-30 more runs and really sealed the game,” Dravid said. “But Bangar came through again and showed tremendous grit.”
All-rounder Sanjay Bangar finished on 32 off 38 balls, to see his team through. He had scored a similar match-winning 57 to help India chase a mammoth 325 at Ahmedabad last week.
Dravid, captain because Sourav Ganguly is out for the rest of the series with a back injury, heaped praise on his bowlers.
“We had to bowl well after we chose to put them in and I think we did a great job to restrict them to 201,” he said. This was the first time this series, which had so far showcased exceptionally high scores, that bowlers were lauded.
“It was a terrific performance by the bowlers, they really delivered the goods,” Dravid said. “The seamers put us up early and then Kartik and Bangar bowled good restrictive spells. We were having some problems in the first 15 overs in the series, but there were no signs today.”
Seamer Ajit Agarkar took three for 24 and off-spinner Murali Kartik grabbed a career-best three for 36 in only his fourth one-dayer.
“Murali has bowled really well in this series. Today he came good in a pressure situation and delivered the goods,” Dravid said. “He really put us on our way.”
Dravid is now gunning to carry the Jodhpur momentum into the decider in Vijayawada on Sunday.
“We have a chance to win the series now,” he said.
“It’s a one-off game and we’re looking forward to cash in on the confidence this win has given us.”
Squad for NZ Monday
Meanwhile, the Indian squad for the tour of New Zealand will be picked here on Monday. The selectors were originally scheduled to meet in Vijayawada Sunday. The Indians will play a three-day match, followed by two Test matches and seven ODIs during the tour.