ODI UPDATE: Record-smashing Kohli takes India to 321


(Update on the second ODI between West and India in Visakhapatnam)

Bat first, bowl first, flat pitch, slow pitch, good attack, ordinary attack, nothing seems to matter to Virat Kohli, who smashed the record for the fewest innings taken to 10,000 runs and brought up his 37th century to give India a total of 321 on a pitch where it looked 250 might be par.

There was turn on the pitch, the ball stopped at the batsmen, India lost two early wickets, but Kohli and Ambati Rayudu added 139 for the third wicket, exposing the lack of persistence and quality in the West Indies attack.

India read the conditions right, risking bowling in the dew to avoid batting on a pitch expected to turn more in the evening. They picked an extra spinner too. West Indies knew the conditions too, and picked Obed McCoy for his pace variations, in place of fast bowler Oshane Thomas and not a spinner. Inside the Powerplay, Jason Holder went to Ashley Nurse. Rohit Sharma had already offered a catch to point off Kemar Roach, ostensibly because the ball didn’t quite come on. Nurse got Shikhar Dhawan lbw with the ball turning off the straight, reducing India to 40 for 2 in the eights over.

After having been blown away by Kohli in the early exchanges in the first ODI, West Indies tried to bowl away from him. The line was visibly wider, staying away from his stumps. Kohli took that early calculated risk, punching Roach powerfully through cover moments after Dhawan’s dismissal.

At the other end, Rayudu vindicated Kohli’s trust in him, soon overtaking the senior partner in this partnership. Rayudu split the gap between mid-off and cover with regularity, and often at will, manufacturing the length to do so. He began by doing so to Nurse, against the turn. Five of his eight boundaries came through that zone. It became disdainful when he backed away, gave up his stumps to Holder, and smashed a shortish ball wide of mid-off.

Kohli just batted. The way he has batted day in and day out scoring 10000 runs. He just hit the first two shots early to transfer the pressure back to the bowlers, and then began to pick on the prone field. There was a moment when he made a mistake, looking to hit the debutant McCoy hard. The back-of-the-hand slower ball defeated him, but Holder dropped a difficult catch running back from mid-off. Kohli was 44 already then.

Holder will be equally disappointed with his spinners, especially the senior one. Devendra Bishoo continued with inconsistent bowling. There was enough in the pitch to suggest the spinners should not go for easy runs, just like when Bishoo beat Kohli with a legbreak that ripped across the stumps in the 18th over. In the same over he presented Kohli with a leg-side half-volley and a short cuttable ball. Eight runs scored in the over, there was no pressure on the batsmen.

Kohli didn’t need to play the kind of big shot Rayudu played to get out, a slog sweep of Nurse on a turning pitch. Having said that, Rayudu had put India on the road to a big total. At 179 for 3 in the 33rd over, out came MS Dhoni, ahead of Rishabh Pant, who had been padded up through that partnership between Kohli and Rayudu. It was fitting that Kohli took the single to reach 10000 runs in company of Dhoni, the captain he so reveres.

Dhoni couldn’t dconvert his start, Pant gave a brief glimpse of what the young Dhoni used to be like in his 13-ball 17, but Kohli stayed till the end to make sure India didn’t give West Indies much hope going into the second innings. When Kohli cut loose in the end, hitting McCoy for a huge six over long-on in the 47th over, he also crossed 1000 runs for 2018, doing so in only 11 innings, smashing the record he himself jointly held, 15.

Beast mode activated, Kohli took 45 runs off the last 20 balls he faced, making sure India got 100 in the last 10 overs despite a weak lower order. In the last over of the innings, he brought up his fourth score of 150 or more. (ESPNCricinfo)

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