PERTH — Offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned a career-best 4-25 to set up defending champion India's nine-wicket win over second-tier United Arab Emirates in a World Cup Pool B match on Saturday.
After dismissing the UAE for a paltry 102, India raced to 104 for one in 18.5 overs. Opener Rohit Sharma top scored with an unbeaten 57 and shared a match-winning 75-run partnership with Virat Kohli, who finished 33 not out.
India leads the group after consecutive victories over arch rival Pakistan, South Africa and now the UAE.
It is the first time Ashwin has taken four wickets in an innings in 91 one-day international appearances. He bowled unchanged and used the bounce and turn on the WACA surface to unsettle the batsmen after UAE won the toss and elected to bat.
Swing bowler Umesh Yadav and slow leftarm spinner Ravindra Jadeja also took two wickets apiece as the UAE innings lasted 31.3 overs.
Sharma, who had managed scores of 15 against Pakistan and 0 against South Africa, batted fluently and reached his 50 off just 48 balls.
The partnership between Sharma and Kohli spanned 74 balls as the pair cut loose after opener Shikhar Dhawan (14) was brilliantly caught one-handed by Rohan Mustafa at point.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni praised his team for the clinical victory. "We have to respect the opposition," Dhoni said. "I told the boys let's play the game of cricket rather than look at who we're playing.
"At the end of the day these are World Cup runs and wickets. They are good enough for motivation.
Dhoni paid tribute the outstanding efforts of man-of-the-match Ashwin, and was particularly impressed with the team's bowling overall.
"What's changed in this World Cup is the improvement and the consistency of our bowling. We have raised the game. Overall it's looking good for us.
"Ashwin bowled really well. He bowled the right line and length, and used the faster one and swung a bit."
Skipper Muhammad Tauqir lamented UAE's poor performance and said the unique WACA bounce contributed to the team's poor batting effort.
"It is the most difficult wicket in the world," Tauqir said. "We didn't cope with the bounce."
The UAE performed well in losses to Zimbabwe and Ireland, but wasn't up to the level of one of the top eight teams in the sport.
"We had two good games and we need to forget this game soon," he said. "Unlike other two games, India is a more professional team and a better spin attack. It was their spin attack that got the better of us."