India vs West Indies: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav star in Visakhapatnam victory

Adithya Sundar 12:02 19/12/2019
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KL Rahul scored his third ODI ton. Image - BCCI/Twitter

India level;ed the three-match series with a 107-run victory that was set up by a sensational batting performance backed by some superb bowling from Mohammad Shami and Kuldeep Yadav at Visakhapatnam.

Rohit Sharma became the first opener to register 10 international centuries in a calendar year across formats as India posted 387 for five on the back of his superb innings of 159.

While West Indies briefly threatened in the middle overs, wickets in quick succession from Mohammed Shami and a hat-trick from Kuldeep Yadav ensured a comfortable victory for the host.

KL Rahul silences critics

Rohit Sharma top-scored for India with his eighth 150+ score. However, it was his opening partner who got the innings going with some fluent stroke play.

KL Rahul was the aggressor at the beginning of the 227-run partnership with Sharma. His batsmanship was elegant and his timing was sound. Rahul hit the gaps regularly, driving Sheldon Cottrell through the covers and point region. He did not allow the debutant spinner, Khary Pierre, to settle as he stepped out to hit him out of the park on more than one occasion.

The 27-year-old kept the scoreboard moving and reached his half-century off 45 deliveries, even as his partner hit a mini slump and faced 12 consecutive dot balls.

The duo began accelerating from the 21st over and propped the run-rate up with a flurry of boundaries.

Shimron Hetmyer dropped a high catch for Rohit Sharma when he was on 70 and from then on the West Indies must have known that a big century was on the cards for the Mumbai man.

At the other end, Rahul was flawless and he started rotating the strike more as his partner found his range. Rahul reached triple figures off 101 deliveries and celebrated by shutting both his ears and a wave to the dressing room – he had answered his critics all right, with his timely third ton. It was a pity he couldn’t carry on as he holed out at third man shortly after reaching his landmark.

Hitman and a Pantastic finish

After being dropped on 70 in the 28th over, Sharma seemed set to punish the West Indies with yet another mammoth innings. The opener fell in the 43rd over and ended up scoring 87 runs off the 55 deliveries he faced after the reprieve. There was no mercy for any bowler as Rohit put on a batting masterclass. Despite the dismissals off Rahul and Virat Kohli in quick succession, the 32-year-old was relentless and the flow of runs continued unabated.

He reached his 150 with a trademark six over the bowler’s head, the fifth maximum in his knock.

Sheldon Cottrell finally brought an end to the spectacular innings as Sharma nicked a short-ball to the keeper.

As he walked back to the pavilion, a hope for respite might have creeped into the minds of the visitors, but it was not to be.

What followed was a brutal assault from the pair of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant.

The wicket-keeper batsman for a change, backed his ability to hit the pacers in front of the wicket. He carted Alzarri Joseph for two sixes in an over before dismantling Cottrell in the subsequent over, smashing 24 runs off the left-armer.

Kieron Pollard brought on off-spinner Roston Chase in the 47th over to counter Pant’s assault and the move backfired gloriously.

Shreyas Iyer accounted for 28 off the 31 runs that came in the over as full tosses from Chase were sent flying over the midwicket boundary.

Iyer, who reached his fourth consecutive fifty off just 29 deliveries, has slowly established himself as India’s No.4.

After the duo departed, Kedhar Jadhav’s brief cameo ensured that the Windies started their chase with the required rate well over seven.

Pooran and Hope give India a scare

West Indies started the chase steadily, scoring 60 runs in the power play. They lost three quick wickets after the field spread out as Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer and Roston Chase were dismissed in the space of four overs.

The pair of Nicholas Pooran and Shai Hope consolidated briefly before launching into an attack. The duo raised their 100-run partnership in no time to keep pace with the required rate. Pooran was the aggressor as he smashed six maximums in his innings of 75.

India’s catching was abject as they dropped sitters to hand lifelines for both Pooran and Hope.

Pooran’s destructive knock gave the Windies an outside chance of taking the chase to the final overs but Mohammed Shami shut the door on the visitors with consecutive strikes in the 30th over to dismiss both Pooran and Kieron Pollard.

Thereon it was free fall as batsmen perished in their attempt score big and quick.

A couple of overs later, Kuldeep Yadav became India’s first bowler to take two hat-tricks as he picked up the wickets of Hope, Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph.

Keemo Paul delayed the inevitable and stretched the chase to the 44th over with career-best score. Shami fittingly brought the innings to a close with a pinpoint yorker to knock Paul over.

The series is level at 1-1 and the decider will be played in Cuttack on Sunday.

Brief Scores:

India 387 for 5 (Rohit 159, Rahul 102, Iyer 53, Pant 39)

West Indies 280 (Hope 78, Pooran 75, Shami 3-39, Kuldeep 3-52)

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