RAJKOT – They brought in more than 1 000 policemen, paramilitary troops and private security guards to prevent it, but the third One-Day International was abandoned here yesterday by the same missile-throwing lawlessness from the stands that interrupted the first two.
There was no continuation to a match that had seen a batting blitz rare even in the shorter form of the game.

Three times subjected to bottles and stones tossed onto the ground, the West Indies had continued after breaks in previous matches in Jamshedpur and Nagpur. Now they refused to go back onto the field after boundary fielder Vasbert Drakes was struck a painful blow on the leg.

India, 200 for one off 27.1 overs and zooming to a target of 301, were declared the winners by 81 runs under the complicated Duckworth/Lewis system by International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Mike Procter.

Between them, the teams had rattled up 500 runs at 6.49 an over and counted seven sixes and 56 fours in a fusillade of shots when Drakes was hit as he sprinted in vain to prevent another boundary.

Virender Sehwag, the robust right-hander, was in merciless form with 117 off 82 balls, with two sixes and seven fours. It was his third hundred in such matches – and his previous two were also at better than a run a ball.

His opening partnership of 196 with the left-handed captain Sourav Ganguly, India’s highest for the wicket against the West Indies, had just ended with Ganguly’s dismissal for 72 (83 balls, nine fours) when Drakes came limping back to the middle.

Last straw

It was, Procter said afterwards, “the last straw”. For the West Indies, it was the point of no return.

Procter, the former South African all-rounder, consulted umpires Asoka deSilva and A.V. Jayaprakash and ushered stand-in West Indies captain Ridley Jacobs, his players and Sehwag and new batsman, V.V.S.Laxman, into the sanctuary of the team room in the pavilion.

They emerged again only for the presentation ceremony when most of the 20 000 spectators had left. They rejected efforts to continue the match, even after the relevant stand was cleared and though aware they would lose under the Duckworth/Lewis system applied to delayed, interrupted or abandoned matches.

By the method’s complicated calculation, India needed only to have been 120, with one wicket down, at the time to secure the victory that reduced their deficit in the series to 2-1. The margin is officially registered at 81 runs.

Duckworth/Lewis was similarly used after the match between West Indies and Australia at Kensington Oval, Barbados, in 1999 was held up by bottle-throwing from spectators incensed over the controversial run-out of local batsman Sherwin Campbell.

The abandonment came as relief for the bowlers who took a pounding all day on a true pitch and small, fast outfield in bright, cloudless weather.

For the first time in the series, West Indies batted first. Their two earlier victories were pursuing targets of 280 and 284 and, given the batsmen-friendly conditions, both captains agreed it was better to go second.

West Indies were propelled to 300 for five from their 50 overs, their second highest total in the 72 such matches between the teams, by left-handed opener Chris Gayle and a fourth-wicket partnership of 149 between two other in-form batsmen Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Gayle followed his 103 in the second match with 72 off 68 balls, lifting left-arm fast bowler Ashish Nehra onto the roof of the stand at long-off and hooking Akit Agarkar for sixes and also counting 12 fours.

When he dragged his pull shot from off-spinner Harbhajan Singh into his stumps in the 22nd over, Sarwan and the left-handed Chanderpaul took control against ragged bowling.

Sarwan lifted Sehwag’s off-spin for a six over long-on and put fast bowler Javagal Srinath over long-off with a remarkable stroke for another. He also had six fours in his 84 before he was out for the first time in the series off his 88th ball.

Chanderpaul rattled up 74 off 77 balls until he was well caught in the deep off Harbhajan, allowing Ricardo Powell to put the exclamation mark to the innings with 19 off 18 balls, ending with a six off the penultimate ball off Nehra.

Medium-pacer Ganguly was the only Indian bowler to go for under five an over – Agarkar’s six cost 63 – but it should have been a warning to the West Indies.

Jacobs, leading the team for the first time in the absence of the injured Carl Hooper, said afterwards he thought 300 was an adequate total – “at first”.

But the reality soon struck him and Sehwag and Ganguly took toll of inconsistent bowlers.

None of the six was spared but off-spinner Gayle, who had 18 taken off his solitary over by Sehwag (a six and three fours), and leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo, with 43 off five overs, were the main sufferers. By the 15th over, Sehwag and Ganguly had 150 in the scorers’ computers. It was 195 five overs later.

Yet Marlon Samuels managed the only maiden for the match, to Ganguly in the 25th over, and the captain fell in the next over. With 101 needed off 22.5 overs, India were in cruise control – but the bottle throwers effectively completed the job for them.

The fourth match in the series at Ahmedabad on Friday is the only day-night on the schedule.


SCOREBOARD


West Indies

C.Gayle b Harbhajan .72

W.Hinds c Laxman b Srinath .10

M.Samuels c wk Dravid b Ganguly .16