Sport

Classy Kohli spurs India to series triumph over Windies

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 07, 2017

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They had to wait a bit longer than they would have liked, but India led by a classy century by Captain Virat Kohli, wrapped up a 3-1 series win over the West Indies following an eight-wicket triumph in the final game of the five-match series at Sabina Park yesterday.

West Indies trailing 1-2, came into the contest with hopes of levelling the series, but after winning the toss and opting to bat first, those hopes were left hanging by a thread.

The Indian bowlers exerted their dominance in restricting the regional side to a moderate 209-9 from 50 overs, with the Hope brothers Shai (51) — who is the only batsman to score two half-centuries in the series — and Kyle (46) being the best scorers in a West Indies batting order that lacked the flair and experience to capitalise on the conditions.

It was another wasted start by Kyle, who went at a decent pace for his 46 off 50 deliveries, including nine boundaries.

However, Kohli, with his usual panache, showed the youngsters how it is done. He played a classy innings of 111 off 115 deliveries in a 122-run, third-wicket stand with Dinesh Karthik, who made an even 50 to carry his team home at 206-2, bettering the West Indies for a third time at the venue.

Scores: West Indies 209-9 (50 overs); India 206-2 (36.5 overs).

After failing to make the most of the early morning conditions with the bat, West Indies needed another disciplined performance with the ball. They got the perfect start when Alzarri Joseph had Shikhar Dhawan caught by Evin Lewis off the last ball of the first over.

Kohli and the in-form Ajinkya Rahane added a further 79 for the second wicket after Devendra Bishoo failed to hold on to a catch from the latter in the fourth over and West Indies were made to pay for that error.

But the leg-spinner made amends when he eventually had Rahane, who had five boundaries in his knock of 39 off 51 deliveries, trapped in front with India still in control at 84-2.

However, any sort of momentum the West Indies thought they had developed was quickly demolished as Karthik and Kohli took the bowling apart in the match-winning partnership which came off a mere 108 deliveries.

Kohli, in achieving his 18th century in 102 innings — surpassing his compatriot Sachin Tendulkar, who achieved the feat from 232 innings — slammed 12 boundaries and two sixes, one of which completed the victory.

Meanwhile, Karthik's knock came off 52 balls and included five boundaries.

Earlier, West Indies got off to a tidy start and had the opportunity to achieve a bigger target on a nice-looking pitch with a lot of grass rolled in nicely, which assisted in the ball coming on to the bat.

But they squandered three successful partnerships, none in excess of 50, and lost wickets at regular intervals, with pacers Mohammed Shami (4-48) and Umesh Yadav (3-53) proving the menace to the West Indies batsmen.

Openers Lewis and Kyle were a bit tentative at the top, but the latter, in his third ODI, gradually grew in confidence as the aggressor and found the boundary ropes on a number of occasions with some exquisite drives.

Kyle's confidence became more evident in the fifth over when he proved equal to a full delivery from Shami which swung back late and flicked the ball to the square leg boundary, nearly falling over.

However, the opening stand of 39 was eventually broken in the ninth over when Lewis went tamely for nine to Hardik Pandya after attempting an aggressive drive over mid-off to a length delivery. India's Kohli comfortably accepted the lobbed chance.

Shai joined his older brother at the crease and the two were, literally, West Indies last hope as they briefly frustrated the Indian bowlers with a few crunching yet delightful stroke plays in another valuable partnership worth 37 runs.

This partnership could have put India under some pressure had it carried on past the 50 mark, but it wasn't to be.

Yadav, who had earlier gone for 22 runs from his three overs, returned to bowl the 16th over and was once again taken to the task by Kyle, who took him to the boundary ropes consecutively, with the last shot being an imperious pull in front of square.

But the pacer had the last laugh as he had the batsman caught at midwicket by Shikhar Dhawan attempting another premeditated pull off the front foot.

Prior to that, India were struggling for a wicket, but Yadav handed them two in the same over as he removed Roston Chase with a first delivery leg-before-wicket with a full and straight delivery.

Chase challenged the decision, but it proved futile as the replay confirmed that he was plumb in front without scoring, and his wicket initiated the customary West Indies collapse.

After Jason Mohammed offered a cheap catch back to spinner Kedar Jadhav in his brief stay of 16, it was time for the Shami show.

Shami, who has now taken 91 wickets in 49 matches, ensured that the West Indies were kept in check as he accounted for Captain Jason Holder (36), top scorer Shai (51) and the lower-order pair of Ashley Nurse (zero) and Devendra Bishoo (six).

Holder and Shai steadied the innings with a 47-run partnership for the fifth wicket, but the skipper, who seemed well set to push on after clobbering four boundaries and a six, may have been too excited. In a bid for another big hit, Holder picked out Dhawan in the deep.

Shai fell shortly after bringing up his second half-century of the series, also going for a big hit, and was caught at deep midwicket by Rahane.

Nurse and Bishoo both went cheaply, and it took local star Rovman Powell with a 32-ball cameo of 31, including two big sixes, to take the West Indies over the 200 mark.

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