Fine centuries from Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul saw India level the ODI series in Vizag with a thumping 107 run win over the West Indies. Visiting skipper Kieron Pollard, as he had done in Chennai, opted to bowl first, but India’s openers effectively batted them out of the contest. Sharma and Rahul added a massive 227 for the first wicket, laying the platform for the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant to go hammer and tongs in the final ten, and the hosts’ mammoth score of 387 was always going to be too much for the Windies to chase.
Wary of the fifth bowler problem that surfaced in Chennai, India opted to bring in Shardul Thakur for Shivam Dube. The Windies made two changes- Evin Lewis and Khary Pierre coming in for Sunil Ambris and Hayden Walsh Jr. respectively.
Here are our talking points from the game.
Shami double wicket over turns game on its head: In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami is the default leader of this Indian attack and skipper Virat Kohli’s go-to man. Kohli only asked him to bowl 3 overs upfront, leaving the bulk of his overs for the back end of the innings.
The Windies were threatening to script a miracle win with Nicholas Pooran and Shai Hope leading the charge. At 192/3 in the 30th over, they were ahead of India’s score at that very stage of the game, and going by the old logic of doubling your 30 over score, perhaps even in with a chance of chasing down 388.
Shami first got Pooran out with a bouncer and then got the dangerous Kieron Pollard to nick to Pant off the very next delivery. The game effectively changed in these two deliveries- none of the remaining Windies batsmen had the hitting range of Pooran and Pollard, and the hosts cruised to victory.
Golden ducks for both skippers: Speaking of the Pollard dismissal above, it was the first time in ODI cricket that both skippers scored golden ducks in the same game. Kohli fell to Pollard for a rare first ball duck while the Windies skipper, as mentioned before, was dismissed by Shami.
Another hat trick for Kuldeep Yadav: Kuldeep Yadav became the first Indian to claim two hat-tricks in ODI’s. An excellent catch by Kohli on the boundary to dismiss Shai Hope was followed by Jason Holder getting stumped and Alzarri Joseph nicking one to Kedar Jadhav at second slip in successive deliveries to give Kuldeep his hat trick. The left armer has been short on confidence, and this will hopefully spur him on to greater heights.
Hitman Sharma again breaks records: Rohit Sharma’s fabulous 159 saw him go past Hashim Amla in the list of ODI centurions. It also all but ensures he will finish as the holder of India’s highest ODI score for the seventh year in succession. Sharma now also holds the record for most 150’s in international cricket.
Rohit Sharma records highest individual score for INDIA in ODIs for 7 consecutive years.
He also record at least 1 150+ score in year since 2013.
— Manish 🏏 (@IManish311) December 18, 2019
The platform set by Sharma allowed Pant and Iyer to go berserk in the latter part of the innings. Even the reliable Sheldon Cottrell was carted for 24 in an over, while poor Roston Chase got taken for 31 as India plundered nearly 80 runs off the final five overs.
Indian fielding again disappointing: Shai Hope was dropped on 0 while Nicholas Pooran was given a life on 22- both sitters dropped by India’s fielders. It didn’t cost them in the end, but there was a period when the Indian coaches in the dugout would have been worried, with both batsmen going on to make 78 and 75 respectively.
The third and final ODI will be played in Cuttack on Sunday.