West Indies scripted an electrifying victory against India in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) at Antigua by winning the low-scoring encounter 11 runs. West Indies skipper Jason Holder rose to the occasion and led the team from the front; he bagged his maiden fifer in ODI cricket and set the tone for an implausible victory. When West Indies took the field, they just had 189 runs to defend against the powerful Indian line-up. The situation demanded the best out of West Indies with the ball and their bowlers ensured they delivered.
In contemporary cricket, defending such a low target is extraordinary as the game is heavily tilted in the favour of batsmen. But the Antigua pitch had enough assistance for the bowlers, it was sluggish and West Indian bowlers exploited it well. Indian fans and many cricket pundits would have predicted this target to be a cakewalk for India by looking at the way they have fared in the recent times, but it wasn’t to be. West Indies bowlers were outstanding with the ball and got the job done to keep themselves alive in the five-match series.
West Indies batting once again failed to deliver but this pitch was different. Only the most loyal of West Indies fans would have thought the total was enough for their side to contain India. Jason Holder had played 61 ODIs prior to this game and was yet to claim a fifer. It wouldn’t have been a better occasion than this for him to do so. Holder recorded his finest ODI performance and finished with figures of 5 for 27 to guide his side to a much-needed win.
After Alzarri Joseph got the better of Shikhar Dhawan, Jason Holder chipped in with the prized wicket of Virat Kohli. West Indies had tried a lot of short pitched deliveries earlier, in fact, Holder got the better of Kohli in the third encounter with a delivery that took off from a back of a length. Holder bowled a wicket maiden and varied his length to make himself unpredictable. The third delivery of the over was a bouncer, which Kohli failed to connect and the leather just missed his outside edge. The last delivery was once again a bouncer and Kohli went for the pull but only managed a healthy top edge.
India bat deep and the required run-rate was not a matter of concern. West Indies had to pick all ten wickets to emerge victorious but they also squeezed the runs and built pressure. When Roston Chase conceded 16 runs off the 44th over, which was also his first in the series, West Indies eased off the pressure from Indian batsmen. When India needed 31 off 30 deliveries with Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni at the crease, things were almost over for West Indies.
Jason Holder took charge and bowled the 46th over. Hardik Pandya shuffled a lot outside off stump in the previous over and compelled the bowler to bowl few wides. He premeditated to do so once again but Holder was well aware of it and got his yorker dead right, which hit the leg stump. This was some magnificent observation, planning and execution by Holder that helped him earn the crucial wicket of Pandya, who looked good out in the middle.
Dhoni was struggling to rotate the strike and Pandya’s dismissal opened up the contest. Ravindra Jadeja looked good and was rotating the strike well. When India needed 17 off 16, Jadeja mistimed a slower one straight to long-on while attempting a slog. Holder brought West Indies back into the game with two crucial wickets. Wickets kept tumbling, but Dhoni stood firm for at the other end. He is hailed as one of the best finishers of the game and India did not need to worry as long as he was out there in the middle. But Kesrick Williams finally achieved a fruitful result for his hard work, when he got rid of Dhoni on the last delivery of the 49th over.
Things were almost done and dusted for India after Dhoni’s wicket but with just 14 runs needed off the last six deliveries, it was just a matter of three good hits. And Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami are well capable of clearing the boundary. But Holder didn’t provide any room for error as he cleaned Umesh Yadav with a wonderful yorker on the very first ball and then a full toss got the better of Mohammed Shami. Holder won his third man of the match award for a prolific outing and did a fantastic job as a skipper.
West Indies did the unexpected and defended the total by 11 runs. They have been an unpredictable side and have produced incredible performances out of nowhere. Their bowling did reasonably well in the previous game where they restricted India to 251 and now successfully defended 189. West Indies now have a golden opportunity to square the five-match series provided they win the fifth and the ultimate game. Beating one of the top ODI sides in the world will certainly infuse immense confidence in the rebuilding West Indian side. And a lot of credit for this crucial victory goes to Holder, who not only delivered as a bowler but also as a captain.