BRIDGETOWN: 2007 Champions India were on the brink of elimination from the Twenty20 World Cup after suffering a 14-run defeat against West Indies in their Group F Super Eight match on Sunday.
Chasing 170 to win, India made 155 for nine as their top order once against collapsed against sustained fast bowling.
Suresh Raina hit a 25-ball 32 but it was Mahendra Singh Dhoni (29) and Harbhajan Singh (14) who raised India hopes in the death overs, but some outstanding fielding and bowling by Dwayne Bravo fizzled out India’s challenge.
Bravo produced an outstanding direct hit from long on to get rid off Dhoni and then held a catch in the deep off Harbhajan before dismissing Ashish Nehra at short mid-wicket by Suleiman Benn to put the last nail in Indian coffin.
Earlier, Chris Gayle butchered the Indian bowlers with a whirlwind 66-ball 98 as West Indies posted a competitive 169 for six after India skipper Dhoni put West Indies to bat.
India would need a miracle to reach the semis now as a win for Sri Lanka over Australia in the other Group F match at the Kensington Oval would mean they no longer had a chance of reaching the final four.
If Australia defeats Sri Lanka and West Indies in their next two matches and India beats the Islanders in their last encounter, then it will come down to run-rate which will be the only slight chance that India will have to make to the semis.
Earlier, Gayle slammed five fours and seven sixes and involved in three crucial partnerships with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (23), Darren Sammy (19) and Keiron Pollard (17) to take his team to a competitive score.
Gayle mixed aggression with caution to single-handedly anchor the West Indies innings on a damp but drying wicket which wasn’t conducive for stroke making at the Kensington Oval here.
Gayle piously defended his citadel when the bowlers demanded respect and treated them with casual disdain when they begged to be punished.
He was calm and resolute when Harbhajan Singh (4-0-16-0) was in operation and ensured his side did not lose wickets even when the Indian had the game in control after five overs which yielded just 26 for no loss.
But the moment the off-spinner went off the attack, he opened his broad, muscular shoulders to annihilate the rest of the Indian bowlers.
He was in no hurry to rotate the strike while raising 80 runs for the first wicket with Chanderpaul.
Gayle lashed out at the bowlers with power and precision and showed scant respect to Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Ravindra Jadeja as all his sixes sailed over the pickets to the utter delight of the local fans.
The Indian fielding lived up to its billing. Ravindra Jadeja spilled Chanderpaul at 12 when West Indies had made 43 in 7.4 overs.
A little later, Gayle watched Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan collide with each other and drop what should have been a simple catch at short square. Gayle was on 46 in a score of 73 for no loss in 11.1 overs. He lived to flay the Indian attack in the death overs, adding 52 runs after the reprieve.
Forget the dropped catches, the out-fielding also left much to be desired. Jadeja seemed to have not got over his nightmare against Australia, as he floundered in the deep, letting the ball slip under his knees.
The 21-year-old was also to concede 16 runs in his first over, with Gayle and Darren Sammy slamming him for sixes.
The score could have been much more but pacer Ashish Nehra, who bagged three wickets for 35 runs, bowled a brilliant last over to restrict West Indies to 169.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt.), Murali Vijay, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.
West Indies: Chris Gayle (Capt.), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Wavell Hinds, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy, Sulieman Benn, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor. (PTI)