Cuttack: Rohit Sharma struck a timely 72 before Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav – India's two new pace sensations – held the willow and their nerves for the last 11 runs to earn India a nail-biting one-wicket win over the West Indies in the first ODI here on Tuesday.
Chasing 212, India were reduced to 59 for 5 before Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja (38) combined to revive the run-chase with an 83-run partnership.
India began well with a 37-run opening stand between Virender Sehwag and Parthiv Patel but then they lost five wickets in the space of 22 runs to give West Indies more than a hope for an upset victory.
India's Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav scored the last 11 runs in India's one-wicket win over the West Indies at Cuttack, India, on November 29, 2011. (AP Photo)
The Indian top order was guilty of playing some rash shots, showing signs of complacency while chasing a moderate target. Kemar Roach stepped up for West Indies as he removed Parthiv (12), Gautam Gambhir (4) and Virat Kohli (3) cheaply.
Sehwag then tried to steady the ship but fell to Russell, who continued to brighten West Indies' chances after Roach's good work at the top.
Russell then made it 59 for 5 when he took care of Suresh Raina. The ball stopped on Raina, who checked his shot at the last moment only to spoon a catch to mid-off.
Sharma and Jadeja took stock and figured out that if they stayed on the wicket, runs would come. After getting their eyes in, the two started milking the bowlers with relative ease.
Just when it looked India were in a comfortable position, Kieron Pollard removed Jadeja, whose slash at a fullish delivery went straight to point.
R Ashwin was run out after Sharma failed to see him denying a suicidal second, bringing the game back in balance at 159 for 7. Thereafter, Sharma took charge and tried to hog more of the strike.
A 42-run partnership ensued between Sharma and R Vinay Kumar to firm India's hopes of an easy win. But with just 11 needed for a victory, a double strike by Anthony Martin and skipper Darren Sammy swung the pendulum once again.
Sharma missed the line of a Martin delivery to let the ball through to hit his stumps. In just the next over, the 47th, Vinay followed him back as he hit one straight to mid-off.
However, Aaron and Yadav then showed nerves of steel to take India home by one wicket, when Yadav shuffled across to hit an on-drive off Sammy for the winning boundary to give India a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Earlier in the day, Yadav (2/33) and Aaron (2/47) took two wickets each to restrict West Indies to 211 after Sehwag put the visitors in to bat. Darren Bravo was once again the chief contributor to his side's score with 60.
West Indies began on the wrong foot when the Indian new-ball bowlers reduced them to 52 for 3. While Adrian Barath (17) was the first man to go by edging Vinay to Parthiv, Marlon Samuels (10) and Lendl Simmons (19) were bowled by Aaron and Yadav respectively.
Bravo then combined with Danza Hyatt for a 75-run fourth-wicket partnership to raise hopes of a competitive total. But the run-out of Hyatt (31) opened the floodgates for the visitors.
Bravo fell 27 runs later as West Indies lost half of their side at the score of 154 in the 35th over. He was bowled by part-timer Raina.
It was a procession thereafter as the Caribbean side lost its last six wickets for 57 runs. Pollard failed to live up to his big-hitting rapport and was dismissed by Ashwin for a laborious 13 off 33 balls.
Russell played a little cameo in the end, 22 off 23 balls, to take West Indies past the 200-run mark.