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India clinch the series against West Indies with a win in Cuttack

India clinch the series against West Indies with a win in Cuttack

India vs West Indies, 3rd ODI, Cuttack: After having disappointed with the bat in the previous game where he returned to the pavilion for a duck, skipper Virat Kohli was his best self once again as he negotiated the tricky chase in the second innings deftly before Shardul Thakur took charge of proceedings with the fieriest cameo of his short career with the national team so far.

Having won the toss, Virat put Kieron Pollard and his team to bat first who set the target of 316 for the men in blue. The West Indies skipper Pollard had a point to prove, and prove he did with the bat as he scored a quick-fire 74 runs at a strike rate of 145.10. He was aided and abetted in his efforts by Nicholas Pooran who had left it late but ended up finishing with the most runs in the game when he finished with 89 runs in just 64 deliveries. Pooran’s innings included 10 fours and 3 sixes. Together, they crafted a wonderful partnership of 135 runs in 98 balls that took the Indian bowling unit to smithereens.

This hardly came as a surprise as the bowlers lost their confidence and precision with line and length going into the last ten overs and they ended up conceding 118 runs. Navdeep Saini, who replaced the injured Deepak Chahar in the lineup claimed his first victim in One Day International Cricket when he got rid of ShimronHetmyer who seemed like he was about to accelerate after scoring a solid 37 runs.

Saini finished the game with a fine second spell of 3-0-10-2 with his second wicket coming in the shape of Roston Chase who got dismissed with a yorker when he was batting at 38. He could’ve finished with three wickets had Ravindra Jadeja done better with the diving catch of Evin Lewis when Lewis was batting on 14. Mohammad Shami prevented Shai Hope from breaking Brian Lara’s record of most runs by a West Indies in international cricket in a year as he fell short by only 4 runs, with Shamidismissing him at eight runs short of 50.

Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav finished with figures of 1/66 and 0/67 as they suffered the most during the Pooran-Pollard show. Kuldeep had a game to forget after claiming his second ODI hattrick in just the previous outset. However, to be fair to the chinaman bowler, he should’ve bagged the wicket of Roston Chase as Rishabh Pant dropped him behind the stumps at a duck, once again faltering with the gloves in his hand.

Despite taking almost 40 overs to reach the 200-mark while having plenty of wickets in hand, West Indies would be thankful to the duo of Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard who bolstered the innings to as far as it did.

In response, the stage was set ably by the Indian opening batsmen who returned to extend their demolition work from the previous game, where they had scored a double ton opening stand. KL Rahul and Rohit seemed to be in their groove once again and both once again ended up making fifties.

India was comfortably sailing in the chase as Rahul and Rohit took time to settle in but made sure to hit Cottrell and Keemo Paul around the ground. West Indies would have had nightmares of Vishakhapatnam but their fears were dismissed sooner rather than later when Rohit fell for run-a-ball 63 when India was at 122.

KL Rahul and ShreyasIyer gave way soon with Rahul getting 77 runs in 89 balls while Iyer was dismissed for cheap. Pant and KedarJadhavcould do little to help the scenario and it all fell on Virat’s shoulders once again, as it has been for so many times this decade. The stage was set perfectly for the Delhi batsman who steadied the ship as he has done so many times this decade.

He combined patience with explosiveness as he made 85 runs in 81 balls, his innings including 9 boundaries. Keemo Paul got rid of him with 5 overs left to go, a rare occurrence to dismiss Kohli before he completes the chase once he’s hit his stride. It has only happened once in the last 5 years that Kohli has gotten out in the 80s and 90s.

“Having done it so many times, you have a bit more calmness and you understand how the dew is playing and all you need is a small partnership,” he said after the game. “I had a nervous look when I walked back, but when I watched Jaddu he looked very confident. From there the opposition usually crumbles. It was outstanding to see others finishing the game. Me finishing wouldn’t have been an outstanding thing, but this is good for the team.”

Shardul Thakur entered the fray and was out for blood right from the word go. Jadeja held the partnership together from the other end to make sure India wouldn’t lose another wicket at the death.

Thakur scored 17 in just 6 balls at a strike rate of 283.33 as he smashed Cottrell for a boundary and a six. In the end, India finished the match and clinched the series with 8 balls to spare and with 4 wickets left in hand. Jadeja finished with an unbeaten 39 from 31 deliveries.

“It’s been one of the best years in Indian cricket and apart from that 30-minutes at the World Cup, its been a beautiful year. We will keep chasing the World Cup, we have that vision in place. Having a bunch of fast bowlers is a brilliant thing to have in Indian cricket and them taking the attention away from the spinners is a huge statement. We have it in us to win series overseas and our pacers deserve it fully. We are in the process of trying to find how people react to pressure. It’s just about identifying those people and that’s something we will keep striving for”, said the Indian skipper in the post-match conference, when he was asked to comment on the year the Indian cricket team had.

Rohit Sharma, who was declared the Player of the Series also chimed in with something similar. “Extremely grateful for the year I had, the World Cup win would have been nice. The team gelled together collectively well and every individual stepped up which is a good sign. There is no way I’m stopping here and there’s an exciting year coming up and I’m looking forward to it. I understand my batting well and knowing the game plan you want to execute is very, very important. The challenge will come once we start traveling, we want to win games and want to stay on top.”

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