ODI: India whip West Indies by 105 runs

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SUMMARY: India 310 for 5 (Rahane 103, Kohli 87, Dhawan 63) beat West Indies 205 for 6 (Hope 81, Kuldeep 3-50, Bhuvneshwar 2-9) by 105 runs

Fifty overs. Forty-three overs. It doesn’t quite matter. India are a bot designed to score 300 and not too many more when batting first, which proved to be more than enough against the inexperienced West Indies batting. No team has scored as many 300s as India – 96 – and it was fitting that they took the lead by seamlessly recalibrating their approach in a rain-curtailed ODI.

Ajinkya Rahane got to his third ODI century – the period approaching his hundred was the only slow spell in India’s innings, Shikhar Dhawan’s run continued with yet another half-century, and Virat Kohli knocked off an effortless 87 off 66. Shai Hope delayed the inevitable West Indies defeat with a fine 81, but once they had lost two wickets before the first run had been scored off a bat, further rain was their only ally. It was not to be.

Early morning rain had left the pitch damp and the atmosphere heavy, ideal bowling conditions that prompted the hosts to invite India to bat. The conditions eventually didn’t turn out to be as treacherous as expected, but it didn’t help that West Indies’ new-ball bowlers never got their length right. They were either too short or too full, getting cut and pulled or driven with ease. There was also more intent from the India openers, who as a partnership have the best average among all pairs who have added at least 1500 runs together. Rahane got going with an upper-cut for a six, and Dhawan loved the driving practice given to him, off-driving Jason Holder for successive boundaries before pulling him for one more in the eighth over. India’s 63 in the first 10 overs was about 14 more than what has been their average since the 2015 World Cup.

The busy scoring continued, especially given that Devendra Bishoo, who bowled well in the first match, struggled with his length. In Bishoo’s third over, Rahane picked up two boundaries to get into the 40s. He lost Dhawan immediately after, stumped off the offspin of Ashley Nurse for 63 off 59, but took over the dominant role as Kohli settled down. As in the first match, this was atypical of Rahane, who usually slows down after a quick start against the hard new ball. Here, as on Friday, he accelerated gradually after a sedate start.

Shai Hope was the only West Indian to get going, hitting 81

From 36 off 45, Rahane scored the next 50 runs in 40 balls, but slowed down near the hundred. The nerves were understandable. Here is a Test shoo-in who has struggled to cement a place in ODIs because he has failed to convert those quick starts on a regular basis. With KL Rahul nearing fitness, this chance, which has come through the rest given to Rohit Sharma, could be his last. You can understand Rahane wanted to grab it. He risked a run-out, he edged a cut, and the next 11 runs took 16 balls. He then laced a cover drive to bring up the hundred, but fell immediately after, looking to slog.

Kohli, though, didn’t let the wickets slow India down. His acceleration was dramatic. He scored his final 50 runs in 25 balls. You could see he was struggling physically because of the high humidity, which is perhaps why there was an extra effort to set that solid base and concentrate on the swing of the bat and not the power. He didn’t over-hit any of his four sixes, but hit them so clean that he didn’t need to look up to see where they went. In the end, that lack of power did him in when he lofted an Alzarri Joseph slower ball to long-on in the penultimate over of the innings.

If there were any doubts about India getting the 300, Holder put paid to them by bowling three beamers and a foot-fault no-ball in his last two overs. The extra deliveries and runs took India over, making it 99 runs in the last nine overs. The next 99 runs would take more than half the length of West Indies’ innings, and three wickets to boot.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar started off bowling in areas where batsmen’s mistakes hurt them, taking two wickets in his first two overs. In the fourth over, Hope steered Umesh Yadav to score the first run off the bat. By the time he hit the first boundary of the innings, in the sixth over, the asking rate had crossed eight.

Hope showed the promise he carries with a composed innings, but he alone was never going to be able to make up for the disastrous and a struggling Evin Lewis at the other end. One of the final acts of the match belonged to a man bowling for the first time in ODIs: Kuldeep Yadav had Lewis stumped off a wrong’un, and Hope lbw on the sweep moments after the batsman had hit him for a six over long-off. He later came back to have Holder stumped off another wrong’un to stamp out the last bit of resistance. (ESPNCricinfo)

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