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India sweep into last four

Ravindra Jadeja claimed career-best figures before Shikhar Dhawan’s century saw India cruise to an eight-wicket victory over West Indies at The Oval and secure the first Champions Trophy semi-final spot.

India asked their opponents to bat under cloudy skies but the seamers did not find much assistance and Dwayne Bravo’s side were well set on 103 for one in the 20th over.

It was then that Jadeja claimed the first wicket of his eventual 5-35, trapping half-centurion Johnson Charles lbw.

The slow left-armer’s initial five-over spell brought two more scalps for the cost of only 10 runs and, despite a brutally brilliant unbeaten fifty from recalled former skipper Darren Sammy in the closing stages, West Indies’ total of 233 for nine was never likely to be enough.

They needed a similarly mercurial spell to the one produced by Kemar Roach up front in their opening victory over Pakistan, yet the paceman and new-ball partner Ravi Rampaul failed to locate a consistent line and length as Rohit Sharma and Dhawan raced to 48 without loss after seven overs of the reply.

The former would eventually depart for an entertaining 52, although his partner had no issues in moving on to 102 not out and seeing his side home.

West Indies opener Chris Gayle briefly displayed his destructive striking before slashing Bhuvneshwar Kumar to slip in the fifth over for 21.

Charles’ fifty was hardly a chanceless affair but he thrilled an enthusiastic crowd with seven fours and a pair of sixes by the time Jadeja removed him for 60 to end 78-run alliance with the more watchful Darren Bravo.

Marlon Samuels followed in similar fashion after a review confirmed Jadeja struck pad before bat plumb in front and Ramnaresh Sarwan was strangled down the leg side for the spinner’s third.

A useful platform had been frittered away and India’s bowlers proceeded to suffocate Bravo and half-brother Dwayne as they embarked upon a painstaking rebuilding job. Almost 10 overs and 31 runs on, the former lost patience and was stumped off Ravichandran Ashwin for an 83-ball 35.

Kieron Pollard used up 10 dot balls before hoisting Ashwin back over his head for two mighty sixes in as many balls.

That 36th-over assault threatened a West Indies revival but gunning for the ropes would prove to be their undoing, as Bravo and Sunil Narine - the former for 25 - perished in the deep either side of Pollard doing likewise. When Rampaul attempted to slog-sweep a full delivery, he was clean bowled and Jadeja completed his haul.

That left Sammy - who had a willing, non-scoring ally in Roach - to sensationally drag his team towards a defendable total. In the penultimate over, Ishant Sharma failed to locate his yorker and was crashed down the ground on three occasions, twice for six. Two more fours and a remarkable, flat maximum over extra-cover then did belated damage to Jadeja’s figures in his final set of six.

Unfortunately for Sammy, he was soon into the West Indies attack as Roach and Rampaul failed to back-up his belligerent 56.

Pollard was at full-stretch in failing to hold a sharp chance from Dhawan as the St Lucian began his allocation in lively fashion. Roach grassed a far simpler chance as the same batsman pulled Dwayne Bravo to fine-leg.

Rohit raised his bat for the second time in as many matches and, by the time Narine had him caught at the wicket on review for 52 off 56 deliveries, India had their hundred up in 16th over.

Virat Kohli played on to Narine for 22 but the extent to which he dazzled with some scintillating strokeplay meant no momentum was lost on 127 for two.

Dinesh Karthik, who looked remarkably unflustered in striking 52 not out, and Dhawan’s progress was more sedate thereafter.

However, the duo comfortably saw their side home, the latter moving to three figures for the second successive Champions Trophy innings.

After the game, it was revealed India coach Duncan Fletcher will fly to South Africa tomorrow to attend his mother's funeral but return in time for Saturday’s final group game against Pakistan.

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