India v WI ODI: Kohli's 10,000-run milestone main talking point in Vizag

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Kohli and Rohit finish the job. Image- BCCI/Twitter.

There is an ODI series going on in India against the West Indies. But on Wednesday, the actual contest will be pushed to the back burner as India skipper Virat Kohli approaches 10,000 runs in ODIs.

Kohli needs 81 more runs to reach that landmark and given the lack of bite in the West Indies bowling, expect the ace batsman to reach the milestone in the second match of the series in Vizag.

India enter the game high on confidence in the batting department, having chased down 323 with nearly eight overs left in the first match in Guwahati as Kohli cracked 140 while opener Rohit Sharma smashed an unbeaten 152. The Caribbean side need to plug many holes as India too will look to tighten things up in Vizag.

Here we take a look at the main talking points in the second game.

KOHLI THE ODI MASTER

Kohli is already considered by many as the greatest ODI batsman of all time because of his phenomenal record in 50-over matches. He has 20 centuries in 75 successful chases, which is already way better than the next man on the list – Sachin Tendulkar with 14 tons in 124 innings. He has 36 ODI centuries and if he gets to within 19 runs of his 37th in the second match, he would cross the 10,000-run mark.

If the India skipper does manage to reach the landmark today, he would have done so in 205 innings – once again by far the quickest to the mark. Sachin Tendulkar reached the milestone in 259 ODI innings.

There are very few batting records out of Kohli’s reach. By the time he finishes his career, he should have most of them in his bag. The only thing that can stop him is his workload and burnout. In India, there seems no stopping the all-time great.

BOWLING AND FIELDING WOES

India’s batting was brilliant in the first match in Guwahati. But their bowling and fielding was far from top-notch. India’s fielders, including Kohli, dived over the ball and allowed a handful of boundaries while Rishabh Pant – in the outfield – struggled and even dropped Jason Holder in the death overs.

In the bowling department, only leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-41) impressed with his control as all other bowlers went for plenty with Mohammed Shami bleeding 2-81. The men in blue didn’t pick left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the first match and since they announced the same playing XI for the second game, expect him to come in for either Shami or spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

The wickets at next year’s World Cup in England are likely to be as true as the one in Guwahati and India need to have at least two solid back-up bowlers behind Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep and Chahal. Another opportunity for the likes of Umesh Yadav and Khaleel Ahmed.

POSITIVES FOR WINDIES

Oshane Thomas made waves in first ODI. Image: Windies Cricket/Twitter.

Oshane Thomas made waves in first ODI. Image: Windies Cricket/Twitter.

For the first 55 overs of the opening match, the West Indies did exceedingly well. Shimron Hetmyer cracked a fine century while opener Kieran Powell scored fifty. If they had kept even one more wicket going into the death overs, they would have easily scored 350.

Then with the ball, burly fast bowler Oshane Thomas rattled the Indians with pace touching 150kph. He induced more than a few false shots from Kohli and on another day would have taken at least three wickets in his opening spell. But Kohli and Rohit survived, taking the sting out of the West Indies bowling. The rest of the attack, including the experienced Kemar Roach and skipper Jason Holder couldn’t do much as the chance was gone. When Thomas returned, his pace was right down and it became target practice for India.

Even so, the Windies have a much better account of themselves compared to the Tests and if they can somehow get Rohit and/or Kohli early, the untested Indian middle order will be in for a challenge.

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India must think outside the box to test middle order during West Indies ODIs

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Kohli and Rohit are a sensational ODI pair. Image: BCCI/Twitter.

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are one of the most devastating opening pairs in contemporary ODI cricket. Rohit and Virat Kohli are the most productive partnership in ODI history if you consider number of double hundred partnerships – five, which is the most. Rohit Sharma has the most 150-plus scores in ODIs – six – while Kohli has most centuries while chasing targets in excess of 300 – eight.

We know that. Fans have been enjoying such stats for a long time. The top three of Indian batting is an all-time great. But there is more to an ODI team than numbers one, two and three.

During the Asia Cup in the UAE, middle order batsman Kedar Jadhav had expressed his relief at the absence of Kohli as it gave the rest of the players time in the middle and gave the management an opportunity to assess them in a high-pressure environment. It was due to the absence of Kohli in the UAE that India found a reasonably reliable middle order bat in Ambati Rayudu and saw Ravindra Jadeja regain his touch as a lower-order power hitter.

The remaining four matches of the ODI series against the West Indies have every chance of going the way the first one in Guwahati did where Rohit and Kohli devoured the Windies bowling and posted ‘daddy hundreds’. It does a whole lot of good for their averages but it means yet another ODI has gone by where the middle and lower order hasn’t had a bat.

In all 17 matches remain between now and the 2019 World Cup. If India are to truly get their line-up battle ready then they need to go out of their way to give the rest of their batsmen game time.

It makes sense to rest one of the top three by rotation for the remaining four ODIs and give batsmen like Rayudu, Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni more time in the middle as it is very important to have at least two of them with runs under their belt going into 2019.

The brilliance of the top three can’t be denied but what happens if they all fail at the same time, as they did during the 2017 Champions Trophy final against Pakistan?

West Indies offer enough challenge to test the Indian batting and the management should give the idea of rotating the batting a consideration.

When it comes to bowling, India have rested seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar while No1 wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav didn’t play the first match against the Windies. The batting too needs a re-look and it won’t hurt if Rohit or Kohli take a step back and give breathing space to others.

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Virat Kohli backs Ambati Rayudu to solve India's 'number four' problem in WI ODI series

Sudhir Gupta 20/10/2018
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Ambati Rayudu was good during the Asia Cup.

India captain Virat Kohli said Ambati Rayudu can solve his team’s middle order problems if he delivers during the five-match ODI series against the West Indies which begins in Guwahati on Sunday.

Kohli said almost the entire line-up has been decided, but for the tricky No. 4 slot and Rayudu – who managed 175 runs in six games in the Asia Cup in the UAE – is the player Kohli wants to back.

“The only position we were trying to figure out was number four for a long time. We tried many players who unfortunately could not capitalise or cement their places in a way we wanted,” Kohli said ahead of the first ODI.

“With Rayudu coming in and playing well in the Asia Cup, it’s about giving him enough game time till the World Cup so that the particular slot is sorted for us.

Rayudu had a stellar IPL Chennai Super Kings, scoring 602 runs. He was selected for the England ODI tour but was dropped as he failed the ‘Yo-Yo’ fitness test. He was back in the team for the Asia Cup and played a crucial hand.

“The team felt there — and I also watched him — that he (Rayudu) is designed to play that middle order batsman’s role. We feel that our middle-order is more or less balanced now,” Kohli said.

“We believe he is the right person to capitalise on that spot. He is experienced and has won many games for his state and also in the IPL. He has a great ODI record already for India. I think the batting order is sorted.”

Khaleel Ahmed (l).

Khaleel Ahmed (l).

KHALEEL JUST PERFECT

India have selected left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed for the series and captain Kohli said his pace and angle complements right-arm quicks Jasprit Bumrah and Co.

“We don’t want to leave any bases uncovered. We thought bringing a left-arm pacer into the mix will give us enough variety. He has the ability to swing both ways and get good bounce as well. He also bowls at a decent pace,” Kohli said.

“It’s always an added luxury to have him (Ahmed) in the team. Definitely he makes the job easier for Bhuvi and Bumrah.”

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