India vs West Indies 2019: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli guide hosts to 2-1 series win
- Magnificent half-centuries from the dynamic top three ensured India's successful year concluded with another series win
West Indies - 315/5
Nicholas Pooran 89 (64), Kieron Pollard 74*(51); Navdeep Saini 2/58
India - 316/6
Virat Kohli 85 (81), KL Rahul 77 (89); Keemo Paul 3/59
"2019 has been one of the best years for Indian cricket," Virat Kohli gleefully reflected in the post-match presentation ceremony. And no one can dispute this.
Magnificent half-centuries from the dynamic top three ensured India's successful year ended with a win. Despite Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Kohli not converting their fifties into hundreds, the collective effort--supplemented by finishing cameos from Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur--saw India complete a daunting 316-run chase with nine balls and four wickets to spare.
If I'd thought about Kohli getting out, I would just be under pressure. There was a set batsman at the other end. It was one of those days. I know I have the talent to bat at No. 8. If I can contribute these runs when the team needs me, I would be glad -- Shradul Thakur
Considering the dew factor and the placid surface at Barabati, India must have fancied their chances of chasing against a vulnerable Windies bowling unit. Quick to pounce on marginal errors in length, Rohit and Rahul began in usual fashion, producing a visual delight of textbook cricketing strokes right from the word go.
India's latest opening pair briskly weaved a stunning 122-run partnership, aided by mediocre fielding from West Indies. Jason Holder drew first blood when Rohit nicked behind while punching uppishly. Virat Kohli assumed charge from then on and wrestled back the advantage in India's favour while entertaining the Barabati crowd with drives and flicks.
India were absolutely cruising when Alzarri Joseph's bouncer found Rahul late on the pull. The timely dismissal opened a comeback window for West Indies, who struck at regular intervals thereafter forbidding India any steady partnership. Keemo Paul further stifled India's progress towards victory, removing Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant in quick succession.
Exacerbating India's woes, Sheldon Cottrel ended Kedar Jadhav's nervous presence at the crease. Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja executed a measured counter-attack, transferring the pressure back on West Indies with their electric running between the wickets and breezy strokeplay as the asking rate plummeted gradually.
Kohli, having predominantly anchored the chase, dragged on for 81, but the extent of damage inflicted by the skipper left India with an achievable equation. Shardul Thakur translated his batting potential into action and secured India's comprehensive triumph.
It was outstanding to see others finishing the game. Honestly when I got out I had a nervous phase, but I looked back at Jaddu and he looked confident. They just changed the game in three overs. Watching from outside is way more difficult -- Virat Kohli
Earlier, after being put in, West Indies' gameplan revolved around building a solid platform before unleashing fireworks. Following a watchful beginning, Shai Hope caressed Mohammed Shami's juicy half-volley down the ground before unleashing an imperious pull. Mixing caution with aggression, the Windies openers defended purposefully while ensuring no freebies are spared. Just when the partnership was starting to look dangerous, Jadeja provided the opening breakthrough when Evin Lewis miscued a hoick to long on.
Windies management's decision to promote Roston Chase at number three ahead of in-form Shimron Hetmyer raised eyebrows, especially with left-arm Jadeja bowling from one end. Chase found Kuldeep Yadav's wrist spin difficult to counter and even survived a caught behind chance with Rishabh Pant failing to grasp the healthy deflection. However, Shami soon compensated for the missed opportunity, breaching Hope's defences with an absolute peach.
With the scoreboard reading 94/2 at halfway stage, West Indies felt the need to accelerate. Shimron Hetmyer pummelled Kuldeep over mid-wicket and dispatched Shardul's charitable lengths for boundaries aplenty, helping the visitors' innings gather steam. Forthwith, Saini's twin strikes checked Windies' surge. The lanky paceman bounced out Hetmyer before unleashing a zipping yorker to disturb Chase's furniture.
Nicholas Pooran then channelised his instinctive flamboyance and reverse-swept Jadeja to kick-start Windies' brutal onslaught. The elegant southpaw produced a batting masterclass, hammering every bowler en route his whirlwind 89. Kieron Pollard complemented the youngster nicely and smoked maximums with ridiculous ease, leaving the hosts gasping for breath. Shardul eventually halted the quickfire 135-run partnership removing Pooran, but Pollard furbished the late burst and guided Windies to 315/5 with an unbeaten 74. Though sparkling batting efforts meant India overhauled the challenging target, death bowling problems nonetheless stand majorly unresolved.Published 23 Dec 2019, 07:38 IST