| Jermaine Lawson (right) and Ramnaresh Sarwan celebrate after the former dismissed Rahul Dravid in Vijayawada Sunday. (Reuters)
Vijayawada: When it mattered most, India failed to recreate the magic that has seen them pull off amazing victories in the recent past. A humiliating 135-run defeat in the crucial seventh one-day International on Sunday saw India lose the series to the West Indies 3-4.
Playing without Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, the Indians collapsed under the pressure of a mighty West Indies total of 315 for six to suffer their first tournament defeat this year.
The team, which had successfully chased 320-plus totals twice this year — one in this very series — was shot out for a mere 180 in 36.5 overs.
The architects of the victory — the first instance, in the series, of the team batting first winning — were Marlon Samuels and Jermaine Lawson. Man-of-the-Match Samuels hit a swashbuckling unbeaten 108 off 75 balls and Lawson took four early wickets.
The confidence of having successfully chased such big totals meant the Indians were not intimidated by the huge West Indies total and even when they lost the first four wickets for just 67 runs there was an outside chance that they would be able to pull it off.
At the crease were Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh. But the quick dismissals of Kaif and Sanjay Bangar washed away all hopes. Yuvraj waged a lonely battle before being the last man out for a 69-ball 68.
Lawson bowled a devastating opening spell claiming the crucial wickets of Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, V.V.S. Laxman and stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid.
Sehwag was caught by the skipper Carl Hooper in the slips after making 12 off 15 balls. Laxman and Mongia then put on 33 runs for the second wicket before both were out within three runs of each other.
Dravid was out to a stunning catch by Ramnaresh Sarwan at short mid- wicket.
Kaif and Yuvraj then tried to build a partnership and added 32 runs in 5.3 overs before Kaif was clean bowled by Corey Colleymore. Bangar fell eight runs later, trapped leg before by Colleymore.
The Indian innings lingered on for 16 more overs after that but their fate had already been decided.
Earlier, Dravid won the toss and, predictably, invited the West Indies to bat. The Caribbeans lost their first two wickets — Chris Gayle and Shivnarince Chanderpaul — with just 16 runs on the board but still managed to post their second 300-plus score of the series thanks to scintillating knocks from Samuels and Sarwan.
Sarwan made 83 off 101 balls with six fours and a six but once again fell short of his first international hundred. He put on 116 runs for the third wicket with opener Wavell Hinds to put his team on the path to recovery.
Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik and all-rounder Bangar, both of whom had impressed in the previous matches, took a pounding from the duo which brought up the second Windies fifty in only 48 balls.
After part-time spinner Virender Sehwag had dismissed Hinds in the 28th over for 58, Samuels and Sarwan put on 50 runs for the fourth wicket in ten overs taking the score to 182 in the 38th over.
Sarwan fell leg before to an Agarkar delivery that cut in sharply. Sarwan’s fall saw the beginning of a blistering attack on the Indian bowlers by Samuels and new man Ricardo Powell who put on 109 runs for the fifth wicket in just 61 balls.
It rained fours and sixes as the visitors progressed from 195 for four in the 40th over to 315 for six in the 50th.