ODI: Hope, Nurse draw WI level despite another Kohli ton

SUMMARY: West Indies 283-9 from 50 overs (Shai Hope 95, Ashley Nurse 40, Shimron Hetmyer 37, Jason Holder 32, Jasprit Bumrah 4-35, Kuldeep Yadav 2-52) v India 240 all out in 47.4 overs (Virat Kohli 107, Shikhar Dhawan 35, Marlon Samuels 3-12, Obed McCoy 2-38, Ashley Nurse 2-43, Jason Holder 2-46)

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This really must be how opponents of Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan felt back in the day. It didn’t matter whether you neutralised the influence of the other eight New York Yankees batters or the other four men in the Chicago Bulls roster. But if you could negate the effect that Ruth or Jordan singlehandedly brought to the game, then you were definitely going to win the contest. Simple.

Virat Kohli‘s presence in the Indian side makes one feel that way. After posting 283 in the first innings, West Indies were against the ropes all evening despite only one India batsman going past 35. But that one man who did get 35-plus was Kohli, and till the time he was in the middle, West Indies looked unlikely to win. That’s when Jason Holder took his biggest gamble of the series in the 41st over.

He introduced Marlon Samuels‘ part-time off-spin for the first time in this series, the risk paid off right away, Kohli fell for 107, and with that India’s hopes of a win came crashing. The rest of the batting showed minimal resistance as India were bowled out for 240, short by 43 runs in front of a sparse crowd that began to make their way out as soon as Kohli was dismissed. West Indies tie the ODI series 1-1 after three games and set the five-game contest up beautifully as it approaches its crescendo.

That West Indies reached 283 in the first innings was courtesy Shai Hope‘s second-consecutive fifty-plus score and a 22-ball 40 from tailender Ashley Nurse.

Hope saw West Indies crumble to 55-3, rebuild a bit and then wobble once more at 121-5. But he anchored West Indies’ innings throughout, against both pace and spin under warm Pune conditions and handed them a promising score by the time he was bowled five short of a third ODI century.

Shimron Hetmyer was dismissed attempting a big shot. He made a brisk 37 (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Midway through the second innings, it looked like Kohli would once again be the difference between the sides. His third consecutive ODI hundred – the first Indian to do so – had kept the hosts in control despite their top- and middle-order failing. He had punished both spin and pace with equal disdain in his 119-ball innings, a chanceless one, up until his dismissal.

But it all unravelled after Kohli’s wicket. India still needed 64 runs, with the asking rate above six, and that was simply too much for their lower order to do. Samuels cleaned up the tail, finishing with figures of 3 for 12, and ended up as West Indies’ most successful bowler on the night.

Off-spinner Nurse, too, played his part too in West Indies’ victory, and not only with the ball. His strike-rate of 181.81 in a 56-run ninth-wicket stand with Kemar Roach had taken West Indies to a promising total after they looked likely to be bowled out for under 250. But he commandeered a late assault with Roach, including three sixes, five fours and plenty of slogs.

Together, they creamed 21 runs off the 49th to ensure Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished with figures of 1-70, and gave West Indies the momentum that they carried into the mid-innings break. He then returned with the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan, lbw in front of middle stump, and Rishabh Pant caught behind down the leg side to keep West Indies’ chances of a win alive.

Barring India’s opening stand which lasted only nine runs, the rest of their batsmen did get starts, but failed to capitalise on them. Dhawan fell to offspin for the 14th time in 50 innings after getting to 35. Ambati Rayudu chopped a length ball onto his stumps off Obed McCoy after composing 22.

Pant failed to capitalise on his 18-ball 24 and MS Dhoni edged one to the wicketkeeper off Jason Holder. At that stage, India were cruising at 194-5, and destined to win as long as Kohli held up one end. But Kohli displayed that he’s human after all, and that India’s batting were susceptible to smart, tight bowling. (ESPNCricinfo)

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