ODI: India crush West Indies by 224 runs to take series lead
SUMMARY: India 377-5 (Rohit 162, Rayudu 100) beat West Indies 153 (Holder 54*, Khaleel 3-11, Kuldeep 3-42) by 224 runs
Not often does a knock of 162 get lamented as a missed double-century. If it your seventh, though, and three of the previous six have been double-hundreds, and if your name is Rohit Sharma, that is exactly the reaction.
West Indies finally managed to deny Virat Kohli a century, but Rohit and Ambati Rayudu made use of excellent batting conditions to take India to 377 and a 2-1 lead with one match to go in the series. Most pleasingly for India, perhaps, Rayudu managed to score the first century for India from outside the top-three slots in the last 21 months.
Kohli might have failed to score a fourth straight big score but he got everything else spot on. He took on the evening dew and batted first because he said he expected the ball to move around a bit under lights. This could well be inputs from coach Ravi Shastri, who played a lot in Mumbai, because there is no sample size to arrive at the conclusion otherwise: the last ODI played at Brabourne Stadium was 12 years ago.
At any rate, the ball did move, perhaps for the first time this series, and India bowled the opposition out for 153, sealing their third-biggest win and West Indies’ second-heaviest defeat in ODIs.
When Kemar Roach got rid of Kohli in the 17th over, West Indies would have hoped to put the top-heavy Indian batting under pressure, but their newest interviewee for the No. 4 role, Rayudu, put the bowlers under extreme pressure in the middle overs.
Rohit and Rayudu added 211 for the third wicket in 27.1 overs. There was a boundary every 5.4 balls in that partnership. There was one boundary in at least 14 of the last 17 overs they were together at the crease. In all, 220 of India’s runs came in fours and sixes.
If Rayudu manipulated the fields and bowlers’ lengths by moving around the crease and down the wicket, Rohit chose to hit from a solid base. The switch was almost seamless. Rohit had just seen Kohli get out – he was 39 off 43 and India 101 for 2 in the 17th over – and had decided to tighten up his game a little. Keemo Paul bowled five straight dots to Rayudu. And then he effortlessly drove the sixth ball wide of sweeper cover.
India can often be blamed for consolidating for too long and thus aiming a little under, but here Rayudu and Rohit both kept hitting the boundaries. Rayudu targeted the spinners, jumping out of the crease first ball he faced. He kept doing that until he got a flighted delivery, which he deposited over cover.
The plan through the day had been to bowl wide to Rohit, not let him access the ball from his steady base. They also wanted to deny him the drive. Only 18 of his runs came in the “V” down the ground. Fifty-two, though, came square and behind square on the off side, which shows West Indies bowled to their plan but Rohit was too good for them.
West Indies had initially managed to keep Rohit relatively quiet, but once Rovman Powell bowled in his arc in the 27th over, the flood gates opened. Three fours came in that over, and immediately – Rohit was only 77 off 81 – speculation around the double hundred began. With a career strike-rate of over 170 after he reaches hundred, and of over 200 in the last 10 overs, the odds were even at this point.
The hitting at each end was sublime. It finally ended with Ashley Nurse finally sliding one wide enough to draw a thick edge from Rohit. Rayudu kept hitting, bringing up his third ODI century before Allen ran him out brilliantly off his own bowling. The scoring refused to slow down; 116 came off the last 10, and Paul, who bowled the last over, registered the joint-worst figures for a West Indies bowler against India, 1 for 88.
Paul and other fast bowlers would have wondered how it might have been if they had bowled with the movement under lights available to them. Khaleel Ahmed, in particular, found consistent swing, which rarely happens with the white Kookaburra.
Even before he got into act, though, India’s sensational fielding had reduced West Indies to 20 for 3. Kuldeep ran Shai Hope out from mid-on with a direct hit, and Kohli produced one for the highlight reel, taking out Kieran Powell with a back-flick direct hit while diving.
Khaleel then began to swing it, and West Indies kept playing as if this pitch was just another batting beauty, a common feature of this series so far, and indeed in today’s ODI cricket. Movement is one thing, but using it is another, and Khaleel showed the wherewithal to do so.
He mixed the swing up with ones that go with the angle without losing any accuracy. Shimron Hetmyer, who has put spinners under pressure, didn’t even get to face them as Khaleel got him lbw with one that held its line. Rovman missed a swinging delivery, and Marlon Samuels edged one that left him.
However, Khaleel didn’t get to add to his three wickets in four overs. Kuldeep went through the rest with his wrong’uns even though Jason Holder played a lone hand with a fifty. (ESPNCricinfo)