Port of Spain: Shikhar Dhawan made a well crafted 97 while Shubmam Gill made a classy 64 in his ODI comeback before India held their nerves to pull off a three-run win over the West Indies in the series opener here.
Openers Dhawan (97 off 99 balls) and Gill (64 off 53) shared an 119-run stand before the West Indies fought back to restrict India to 308 for seven.
The West Indies needed 15 off the final over for a record chase at Queens Park Oval but Mohammed Siraj was able to stop a rampaging Romario Shepherd (38 not out off 25).
At the top of order, Kyle Mayers (75 off 68) and Shamarh Brooks (46 off 61) raised West Indies’ hopes with an 117-run stand for the second wicket before Brandon King (54 off 66) took the game deep. In the end, the West Indies fell short and ended at 305 for six.
Shardul Thakur had struck twice earlier in the chase to bring back India into the game as he removed the set duo of Mayers and Brooks.
The highly rated Mayers played a few spectacular strokes in his innings, including a one legged pull shot off Siraj.
Skipper Nicholas Pooran (25 off 26) came in and punished Prasidh Krishna with two flat sixes over deep square leg and deep midwicket.
The hosts needed 60 off the last 90 balls and the 56-run stand between King and Akeal Hosein (32 not out off 32) kept India on the edge. However, Yuvzvendra Chahal came up with a timely breakthrough to make the job tougher for the West Indies.
The home team was kept in the chase by Shephered and Hosein whose valiant partnership in vain.
Earlier, Gill, playing his first ODI since December 2020, played some sublime strokes while Dhawan took his time before changing gears.
Shreyas Iyer, who has had his troubles of late with the short ball, was back amongst the runs with a fluent 54 off 57 balls.
The opening duo of Gill and Dhawan provided the launchpad for a 350 plus total before the former was run out in the 18th over against the run of play.
Gill, one of the most watchable batters when in full flow, was very comfortable against the fast bowlers.
Gill hooked Alzarri Joseph for a six before he delighted the crowd with a perfectly placed punch off the back foot for a boundary. He was equally attractive playing the cover drives when the ball was pitched up.
His innings comprised six fours and couple of sixes. It took a brilliant direct hit from West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran to dismiss him. It was Gill’s maiden ODI fifty in what was his fourth game.
Dhawan, who only plays one format and had a lean run in England, paced his innings well with Gill going strong at the other end. The southpaw collected 10 fours and three sixes. His go-to-shot was the slog sweep off left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie.
The other left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein impressed by getting the ball to turn sharply.
India were set for a 350-plus score but Dhawan’s dismissal for the seventh time in the 90s led to a middle-order collapse with the visitors reduced to 252 for five from 213 for one.
Sanju Samson (12) squandered a good opportunity to make an impact while Suryakumar Yadav (13) fell to a loose shot.
Deepak Hooda (27) and Axar Patel (21) took India past 300 with a 42-run stand for the sixth wicket.