Chahal, Sundar spin India to series lead against West Indies
SUMMARY: West Indies 176 all out from 43.5 overs (Jason Holder 57, Fabian Allen 29, Yuzvendra Chahal 4-49, Washington Sundar 3-30, Prasidh Krishna 2-29) vs India 178-4 from 28 overs (Rohit Sharma 60, Suryakumar Yadav 34*, Ishan Kishan 28, Deepak Hooda 26*, Alzarri Joseph 2-45)
Led by the spinners’ seven wickets between them, India cruised to a six-wicket victory in the series opener that lasted just 71.5 overs on a pitch offering turn and variable pace.
This was the first time since January 2019 that India’s spinners took more than five wickets in an ODI, but India will be equally impressed that their fast bowlers too created an impact to help restrict West Indies to 176.
The 46 dot balls that India bowled in the powerplay were the highest by them since the 2019 World Cup, thanks largely to Siraj’s opening spell of 5-2-13-1. Krishna took a wicket apiece in his later spells.
India went into their 1000th ODI with a new-look attack. Take out the Sri Lanka tour with a second-string side, and this was the first time India went into an ODI with neither Bhuvneshwar Kumar nor Deepak Chahar in the XI since December 2020.
Instead India picked bowlers who hit the deck hard, something England have done to create a point of difference in limited-overs cricket. Outside the spinners cashing on a helpful surface, Siraj and Krishna delivered just what India would have hoped.
This wasn’t the only change in approach. Albeit chasing a small target, new captain Rohit Sharma scored 46 runs in the first 10 overs, the highest he has done in ODIs. One of India’s issues in ODIs of late has been that their top order is too conservative, which makes it imperative they bat a majority of the innings otherwise it leaves too much to do for the middle order.
With a host of their opening batters missing, it was going to be interesting to see how Ishan Kishan goes in this small window, but it was Rohit who took the initiative early on, giving India such a head start that a hiccup in the middle wasn’t enough to bother them.
The day began with Siraj bowling hard lengths at good pace. After a tight start, Shai Hope drove him for successive boundaries in the third over, the only times he had pitched up. The third ball was similar length but delivered with the wobble seam, nipping in upon pitching and taking the inside edge onto the stumps.
After three overs of Krishna, Rohit went to Washington, who is quite used to bowling with the field up in T20 cricket. The first ball he bowled to Darren Bravo, the initial line suggested angle into the pads, Bravo accordingly closed the face for a single, but was beaten by turn so big that there was no lbw appeal as the ball would have missed the off stump.
Once there was turn in the pitch, Washington’s accuracy was going to be difficult to negotiate for West Indies. Bravo faced the first 13 balls from him, somehow surviving, but the right-hand opener, Brandon King, fell to the first he faced. Closing the face early, he got a leading edge to short midwicket. In the same over, Bravo fell lbw to one that didn’t turn, often the delivery that does the damage on turning pitches.
India didn’t turn greedy. They never bowled the spinners in tandem. After Washington’s spell of 6-1-21-2, Chahal came on with even more devastating results. The first ball Nicholas Pooran faced from Chahal he looked to sweep, the ball fell short of his reach and he was trapped in front.
Chahal then teased Pollard with a loopy slow delivery first up, drawing a big drive and going through the gate with the wrong’un. He got the inside edge from Holder on the hat-trick ball, but it fell short of short leg.
Soon, Chahal bowled the perfect legbreak to take a scratch off the defensive bat of Shamarh Brooks. At the other end, Krishna kept the pressure on with the variable bounce he drew from the middle of the pitch. In the 23rd over, one short ball stayed low to nearly trap Akeal Hosein lbw, but the next one stood up with tennis-ball bounce, taking the edge through to Rishabh Pant.
Jason Holder and Fabian Allen, though, rescued the innings somewhat with a 78-run partnership, but Washington came back to draw a return catch from Allen in the 38th over. A final bit of satisfaction for India would be that Krishna came back to take Holder out with that hard length he has been kept in the side to bowl.
West Indies didn’t have much to work with, but it was also clear they didn’t bowl with the discipline of Siraj and Krishna. Roach strayed into the pads, Holder overpitched, and Rohit got into his work. Soon he began to manhandle Roach, skipping down, chipping, pulling.
It was Alzarri Joseph who stemmed the flow with a nipbacker to trap Rohit lbw for 60 off 51. In the same over, an unusually chancy Virat Kohli top-edged to long leg after hitting two boundaries.
Kishan found a deep fielder looking to hit a six, and Rishabh Pant was run out by a Suryakumar Yadav straight drive. Yet, despite losing four wickets for 32 runs, India were in control thanks to that quick start from Rohit.
With no asking-rate pressure, Suryakumar and Deepak Hooda saw India through with 22 overs to spare. (ESPNcricinfo)