There was some trepidation involved as West Indies captain Kieron Pollard won the toss and asked his counter-part ViratKohli. Flashbacks of the collapse in the first ODI in Chennai came to mind where India also had to bat first but the batting order could not stitch the innings they’d have wanted. The top order had disappointed in that game which allowed West Indies to take the lead in the three-match ODI series.
Given the 1-0 score, the match in Vishakhapatnam did or die for India and the top order, this time, did not disappoint. Both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul seemed in rich hot form as they both made tons in the double century opening partnership for India.
Vice-captain Rohit Sharma gradually started his innings, taking time to hit the bigger shots as the ball was taking time to come on to the bat. He allowed KL Rahul to take the initial charge and Rahul responded well. For the first ten overs, both the batsmen rarely looked out of their comfort zone and despite taking time settling in, looked pretty sure from the word go. After reaching his half-century, Rohit decided to step his foot on the gas and changed gears.
He survived a momentary scare when he was batting on 70 as his mistimed shot was dropped by ShimronHetmyer in the field. That did not deter him and he completed the 28th ODI century in no time. This was Rohit’s 7th ODI ton in 2019 alone which goes to show the magnificent year he’s had. Once Rohit reached the milestone, KL Rahul followed suit and got to his 3rd ODI century in his career.
Rahul fell victim soon after reaching three figures as he was dismissed in the 37th over. Skipper Virat Kohli who came to bat next had a rare off day as he could last only a single delivery from Pollard. After Virat’s departure, Rohit once again switched gears and decided to expedite his strike rate, showing no mercy to the West Indies bowlers. Shreyas Iyer also provided able support in this attempt.
Rohit Sharma finished with 159 in just 138 deliveries, his innings including 17 fours and 5 sixes. The onus now fell on Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant to do the hammering and they stood up to the task. Iyer was the highlight of the best over for India in One Day Internationals as he punished Roston Chase and scored 31 runs in the 47th over of the game, getting to his half-century. Pant also batted at a strike rate of 243.75 and came close to being the fastest Indian to an ODI half-century but was dismissed at 39. Iyer was dismissed in the next over but by then, the damage had already been done, the carnage had already been wrecked.
India finished the innings with a massive 387 runs on the board at the loss of 5 wickets.
The target for the West Indies was huge and always seemed distant as they came on to bat. They survived with relative ease in the first ten overs as Evin Lewis and Shai Hope provided a little hope. Shardul Thakur managed to get the first breakthrough in the game and the floodgates opened soon after. Except for Nicholas Pooran after that, the Windies batting looked erratic, unsure and the target always seemed distant as the required run-rate kept rising with every year.
This made them play risky shots and the Indian bowlers took full advantage of that recklessness with Mohammad Shami and Kuldeep Yadav having a field day. Shami took care of Pooran’s threat while Kuldeep Yadav bagged his second One-Day International cricket hat-trick after he dismissed Shai Hope, Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph in a row. Kuldeep scripted history by becoming the first Indian to bag two ODI hattricks.
By the end, it ended up being smooth sailing as India sealed the tie with relative ease.
Virat Kohli and company will now their eyes to the third and final ODI in Cuttack which will be the series decider. India will negotiate the West Indies threat in the third ODI on the 22nd of December.
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