Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 86 trumped an earlier Andre Russell blitz and steered India to a series-clinching victory over West Indies by three wickets in the third ODI at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday.
Russell’s unbeaten 92 off 64 balls, decorated with eight fours and five sixes, lifted West Indies from the early crisis of 96-7 to a competitive 225-8 off 50 overs.
India’s chase also stuttered before Sharma’s assured knock charted a victory course at 228-7 with 22 balls to spare.
Victory gave the World Cup champion an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Sharma received sound support from Harbhajan Singh, who contributed 41, and Praveen Kumar, 25 not out.
The visitors dipped to 92-6 before Sharma and Harbhajan added a record seventh-wicket stand of 88 to change the course of the match.
Captain Suresh Raina admitted the top order’s approach may have been a bit careless.
“The selection of the shots was a bit wrong at that time. I played a bad shot,” he said.
“But credit goes to Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan. They had a good partnership in between and Praveen Kumar, he played a couple of good shots, too.”
Raina also credited new coach Duncan Fletcher and his staff with preparing India well for the series.
“We just came here after the IPL and we had quality meetings and quality practice,” he said. “Everyone has done well in this tournament. I am very happy with the boys.”
Sharma lashed five fours and two sixes off 91 deliveries.
Legspinner Devendra Bishoo (2-41) and captain Darren Sammy (2-49) led the hosts’ bowling.
Sammy had struck twice in two balls to remove Shikhar Dhawan (4) and Virat Kohli (0) as India’s pursuit stalled on 29-2.
Dhawan miscued to cover while Kohli was an unlucky lbw victim as umpire Norman Malcolm erred.
Subramaniam Badrinath made things worse for his side when he was run out for 11 at 60-3.
Parthiv Patel tried to rebuild in compiling 46 off 61 balls before Bishoo claimed him to a catch at backward point.
Raina (3) and Yusuf Pathan (1) followed cheaply and India were in tatters at 92-6.
Raina swung wildly at Kieron Pollard and skied to point while Lendl Simmons plucked a magnificent catch off Bishoo to remove Pathan.
But Sharma and Harbhajan gradually wrestled the initiative from the hosts with their confident association.
Harbhajan was just beginning to motor when he fell with 46 runs still required. The right-hander hit a four and a six off 64 balls before he skied a catch off Russell.
But Sharma continued to be the rock, arriving at his second half century of the series off 57 balls.
Praveen played with uninhibited freedom to accelerate the victory.
The seamer lashed two sixes and one four off 15 balls before Sharma hit the winning boundary to seal the five-match series for his side.
Earlier, India seized control after winning the toss and inserting West Indies.
Munaf Patel struck in the second over without a run on the board when Kirk Edwards’ leaden-footed drive produced an edge to wicketkeeper Patel.
Simmons and Ramnaresh Sarwan rebuilt in a sensible stand of 65 off 81 balls before a run out changed the course of the innings.
Sarwan, after striking two fours and a six in 28 off 38 deliveries, was late in setting off and his bat plugged into the turf as captain Raina’s accurate return caught him short.
That dismissal brought a procession as six wickets tumbled for 31 runs in 14.5 overs.
Marlon Samuels (1) missed a ripping leg break and was stumped off Mishra, who quickly accounted for Danza Hyatt (1) and Simmons (45).
Hyatt, on debut, essayed an ambitious drive and was bowled through the gate by a googly, while Simmons prodded a leg break to slip.
Simmons cracked four fours and a six.
Harbhajan soon claimed his Mumbai Indians IPL teammate Kieron Pollard, caught behind and the hosts were 85-6.
It got worse soon afterwards when Munaf returned to induce Sammy (3) to edge behind.
But Russell and Carlton Baugh turned the tide with a level-headed partnership that gradually rebuilt before the counterattack.
Russell’s five sixes were all struck with ferocity and cleared the outfield by some distance. His maiden half century came off 50 balls.
Baugh, who notched 36 off 73 balls, departed in the 46th over, miscuing Munaf to cover.
But Russell dominated the last three overs as West Indies added 47 runs.
He added 51 unbroken off 28 balls with Kemar Roach, who scored seven not out off 10 balls.
The fourth game is on the same ground on Monday.