The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sehwag, Sourav in big stand

Rajkot: Crowd trouble raised its ugly head once again as the third one-day International between India and West Indies had to be called off midway through the hosts’ innings here Tuesday.

The home team was, however, declared winners by the Duckworth-Lewis system.

The inexplicable crowd behaviour happened when India, chasing 301 for victory, were coasting at 200 for one in just 27.1 overs. Three West Indian players were hit by missiles thrown from the stands at different times during the Indian innings.

The previous two matches at Jamshedpur and Nagpur were also marred by incidents of stone throwing but were completed after brief stoppages in play.

Despite heavy security arrangement in and around the stadium, a section of the crowd indulged in throwing bottles onto the ground. Match Referee Mike Procter immediately rushed to the field and called the players off the ground.

The entire section of the crowd — from where trouble broke out — was cleared by the police but the West Indies refused to take the field and demanded the whole stadium be vacated, or they were not inclined to continue. Play was finally called off 90 minutes after the incident.

Procter had to take recourse to the Duckworth-Lewis system to calculate the difference between the scores of the two sides at the 25-over stage. India, who were found to be “miles ahead” of the visitors, were declared winners by 81 runs.

“It was a tough decision. But I felt that it was not the Indian team’s fault for what happened on the field. I decided to award the match to India,” Procter said.

West Indies now lead the seven-match series 2-1.

Fine display

It was a superb display of fine stroke-making from the Indian opening pair of Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag. The 196-run stand, an Indian record against the West Indies, firmly put the hosts on the road to fetching their first victory of the series when trouble started.

Sehwag was batting on 114 off 82 balls while Sourav was dismissed on 72 when the game ended.

Ramnaresh Sarwan had earlier struck a career-best 84 as West Indies amassed 300 for five from their 50 overs. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (74) and Chris Gayle (72) also hit half-centuries.

Undaunted by the required run-rate, Sourav started by driving Drakes for two fours. The two scored at nearly eight an over, blasting every single bowler on show. Sourav started the onslaught but Sehwag soon took charge.

India, who reached 100 in the 14th over, were 120 without loss when fielding restrictions came to an end but there was no respite for the West Indian bowlers.

Sehwag repeatedly played the ball off his legs without showing much discomfort on a wicket that hardly offered much bounce.

There was no respite for the spinners as Chris Gayle and Mahendra Nagamootoo were carted around the park. The latter’s five overs cost him 43 runs.

Sourav showed characterestic flair in hitting through the off side and guiding his partner as stand-in captain Ridley Jacobs was left searching for solutions. Sehwag hit Chris Gayle for three fours and a six to race to his 50 in just 38 balls while Sourav hit his 49th half-century off 52 balls.

Sehwag completed his third ODI century from just 75 balls with a single to mid-wicket. Sourav was out soon after, in the 27th over, caught by Chanderpaul diving to his right at mid-off.

Earlier, Gayle kept his good form intact with a 68-ball knock that included 12 fours and two sixes. The main thrust to their innings was, however, provided by Sarwan and Chanderpaul in a 149-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

The ploy to leave out Anil Kumble and opt for a four-pronged pace attack hardly made any difference. Ajit Agarkar went for over ten runs an over, conceding 63 from his six overs. Harbhajan Singh, the most successful bowler with two wickets, gave away 59 from his 10.

The Indian skipper, who bowled for the first time in the series, tried to check the flow of runs with a disciplined line. He sent back Marlon Samuels, caught behind for 16. After the early dismissal of Wavell Hinds, Gayle struck 12 fours and two sixes in his 68-ball 72. Then came the fourth-wicket partnership that provided the thrust for a huge total.

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