XtraTime Web Desk: West Indies finally managed to deny Virat Kohli a century, but Rohit and Ambati Rayudu made use of excellent batting conditions to take India to 377 and a 2-1 lead with one match to go in the series. Most pleasingly for India, perhaps, Rayudu managed to score the first century for India from outside the top-three slots in the last 21 months.
Kohli might have failed to score a fourth straight big score but he got everything else spot on. He took on the evening dew and batted first because he said he expected the ball to move around a bit under lights. This could well be inputs from coach Ravi Shastri, who played a lot in Mumbai, because there is no sample size to arrive at the conclusion otherwise: the last ODI at Brabourne Stadium was played 12 years ago. At any rate, the ball did move, perhaps for the first time this series, and India’s fast bowlers and excellent fielding dismissed West Indies for 153, sealing India’s third-biggest win and West Indies’ second-heaviest defeat in ODIs.
When Kemar Roach got rid of Virat Kohli in the 17th over, West Indies would have hoped to put the top-heavy Indian batting under pressure, but their newest interviewee for the No. 4 role, Rayudu, put the bowlers under extreme pressure in the middle overs. Rohit and Rayudu added 211 for the third wicket in 27.1 overs. There was a boundary every 5.4 balls in that partnership. There was one boundary at least in 14 of the last 17 overs the two played together. Two hundred and twenty of India’s runs came in boundaries.
If Rayudu manipulated the fields and bowlers’ lengths by moving around the crease and down the wicket, Rohit chose to hit from a solid base. The switch was almost seamless. Rohit had just seen Kohli get out – he was 39 off 43 and India 101 for 2 in the 17th over 0 – and had decided to tighten up his game a little. Keemo Paul bowled five straight dots to Rayudu. And then he effortlessly drove the sixth ball wide of sweeper cover.
India can often be blamed for consolidating for too long and thus aiming a little under, but here Rayudu and Rohit both kept hitting the boundaries. Rayudu targeted the spinners, jumping out of the crease first ball he faced. He kept doing that until he got a flighted delivery, which he deposited over cover.
On reply to India’s massive total of 355, Windies started to struggle from the beginning as Khaleel and Kuldeep took 3 wickets a piece to all out them for only 153 to rap up the ODI series.