India’s Shami dents West Indies World Cup chase

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MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, June 27, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – India fast bowler Mohammed Shami struck twice to rock the West Indies at the start of their run chase in Manchester on Thursday, removing the dangerous Chris Gayle after a scratchy innings.

Shami backed up skipper Virat Kohli’s earlier effort with the bat after the star batsman top-scored with 72 to lay the foundations for India’s total of 268 for seven in their 50 overs.

The pace spearhead bowled an incisive opening spell with new-ball partner Jasprit Bumrah to return figures of 2-15 in his five overs.

Gayle mistimed a short ball and was caught by Kedar Jadhav to the left of mid-on after struggling to just six runs off 19 balls.

Shai Hope tried to take the bowler by hitting a boundary but Shami responded by rattling his stumps off the very next ball as West Indies slipped to 16-2.

West Indies were 29-2 after 10 overs – the lowest score in the first powerplay by a team at the World Cup. Sunil Ambris, on 10, and Nicholas Pooran, on four, were at the crease.

Earlier, Kohli became the fastest batsman to reach 20,000 international runs in his 417th innings — India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Caribbean batsman Brian Lara both required 453 innings to reach the landmark.

Wicketkeeper-batsman M.S. Dhoni and Hardik Pandya boosted the total, putting on 70 runs for the sixth wicket to punish the otherwise-disciplined West Indies bowlers.

Pandya hit 46 off 38 balls while Dhoni remained unbeaten on 56, ending the innings with a big six.

The West Indies bowlers, led by paceman Kemar Roach, had kept India in check until the latter stages, stemming the flow of runs with regular wickets after being asked to field.

Roach returned impressive figures of 3-36 in his 10 overs, including the wicket of Indian opener Rohit Sharma for 18.

Kohli, whose 82-ball knock included eight boundaries, extended his fine run of form with some eye-catching shots that charmed a partisan crowd at Old Trafford.

He played a delightful wristy flick for a boundary off West Indies captain Jason Holder, only to give a simple catch to midwicket off the next ball.

Kohli, who registered his 53rd ODI fifty in his 232nd ODI match, built crucial partnerships including a 69-run second-wicket stand with KL Rahul, who made 48.

Defeat for West Indies, who have only won one of their six matches, would snuff out their already remote chances of reaching the semi-finals.