Virat Kohli led from the front with a masterful century- his 42nd in ODI’s, as India defeated the West Indies by 59 runs on DLS in a rain affected clash at Port of Spain on Sunday.
The Indian skipper also took three catches, including a stunning one hander to dismiss the dangerous Evin Lewis, as the visitors continued their winning streak in the Caribbean.
After winning the toss yet again and electing to bat first, India started shakily by as they lost Shikhar Dhawan on the third ball of the innings. The out of form southpaw, who has struggled for runs on this tour, was trapped plumb in front of the wicket by Sheldon Cottrell.
Kohli and vice captain Rohit Sharma then stabilised the innings by adding 74 runs for the second wicket. While Kohli picked up boundaries at will, Sharma struggled for fluency and was eventually dismissed by spinner Roston Chase for 18 off 33 balls, with Nicholas Pooran taking a fine running catch from point.
Rishabh Pant joined his skipper in the middle, but like Sharma, didn’t quite get going, and with the pressure getting to him, went for an injudicious shot and was bowled by Carlos Brathwaite for a 35 ball 20.
Shreyas Iyer has often been regarded by pundits as the best solution to India’s No.4 conundrum and the Delhi Daredevils skipper showed just why he was so highly rated. While Pant and Sharma had struggled in the middle, Iyer had no issues striking at a run a ball from the word go, and it took the pressure off Kohli at the other end.
The pair put on 125 runs for the fourth wicket stand before Kohli was was caught at long off by Kemar Roach for a well made 120. His knock comprised of 14 fours and one solitary six.
Iyer was dismissed for a 68 ball 71, bowled around his legs by West Indies skipper Jason Holder.
The West Indies bowlers fought their way back into the game as India’s last ten overs produced just 67 runs. Kedar Jadhav was run out while Bhuvneshwar Kumar holed out to Roach on the deep cover boundary. Ravindra Jadeja’s run a ball 16 dragged the Men in Blue to 279/7 in their allotted 50 overs.
The 31 year old T20 skipper Brathwite was Windies’ best bowler as he claimed 3/53 in his quota of 10 overs, while Cottrell, Holder and Chase picked up a wicket each.
The West Indies opening duo off Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis made a solid beginning to their chase, adding 45 runs in nine and a half overs. Gayle wasn’t at his best in his 300th ODI, but he did surpass legendary left hander Brian Lara to become his country’s highest scorer in ODI’s.
The flamboyant left hander was trapped in front by Kumar in the 10th over. He reviewed, but in vain, as three reds flashed on the screen. Shai Hope was the next to go, chopping a Khaleel Ahmed delivery onto his stumps for just 5.
Shimron Hetmyer looked good in his short stay at the wicket before he was dismissed by Kuldeep, with Kohli taking the first of his three catches to send his RCB team mate back to the pavillion.
Despite batting a calf injury, Evin Lewis took the fight to the Indians, adding 56 runs with fellow leftie Nicholas Pooran. The 27 year old left handed Trinidadian made 65 before Kohli took a stunning one handed catch to sent him back in the 28th over.
Pooran and Chase took the Windies to 179/4 in the 35th over, but once Pooran holed out, with Kohli again the field, the Windies innings fell apart. Bhuvneshwar took a fantastic return catch to dismiss Chase, and Braithwaite and Roach both fell without disturbing the scorers as the home side slumped to 182/8.
Mohammed Shami returned to take out Cottrell and Oshane Thomas as the Windies were dismissed for 210 in 42 overs.
Kohli was declared the Man of the Match for his brilliant century.
The third and the final ODI will be played at the very same venue on Wednesday (14 August)