It had happened in Antigua, yes. But to expect India to buckle twice in successive low chases was asking for too much. Windies won their fifth straight toss, and could only muster 205/9 in their fifty overs. On a pitch that offered the bowlers little, India trotted to victory in the most emphatic fashion, and put their stamp on the series, winning it 3-1. They won the final ODI by 8 wickets and with 13.1 overs to spare.
The Indian bowlers were the stars for the visitors, with Mohammed Shami taking four for 48, while Umesh Yadav chipped in with three as the home side failed to validate their plan for batting first. A top-order collapse and a worse collapse towards the end wreaked havoc for Windies and they could only do a little better than what they did in the last game.
India’s response suffered an early blow, with Shikhar Dhawan out caught for four. But that was as much joy as Jason Holder’s side could extract during their defence as two good stands – 79 between Ajinkya Rahane (39) and Virat Kohli and 122* between Dinesh Karthik and Kohli – took the game out of their hands. Kohli, once again, showed why he loved chasing. After a circumspect start, the India captain put in a trademark shift that included wristy flicks, sublime drives, deft cuts and powerful pulls to bring up a superb 28th ODI hundred and take India to victory in the 37th over. It was also his 18th hundred in chases, the most ever in ODIs.
Both teams had gone in unchanged for the deciding ODI. India showed why they were looking to bowl first as Umesh and Hardik Pandya combined to remove three wickets early into the innings. After a solid opening stand of 39, Pandya had Evin Lewis out for 9. Umesh struck twice in two balls soon after, sending back Kyle Hope (46) and Roston Chase (0) to leave the home side reeling at 76/3.
The quick wickets put the brakes on the scoring. Shai Hope and Jason Mohammed put caution over quick runs as Windies looked at consolidating. The duo put up 39 runs in 89 balls, but in the process robbed themselves of all the momentum.
Mohammed’s wicket brought in Jason Holder to the crease, and the captain quickly set himself about upping the ante. He smashed 36 off 34 to help Windies make a brief recovery. But just as they looked at carrying on, tragedy struck. Shami was at the forefront of India’s fightback.
Holder smashed the right-hander straight to Dhawan at long on, while Shai Hope, who had trudged to 51 off 97, holed out to a diving Rahane soon after. Shami also added the wickets of Ashley Nurse (0) and Devendra Bisho (6) to his tally as Windies struggled to get past the 200-run mark. From 163/4 in the 40th over, the home side had slumped to 182/8 in the 47th.
Rovman Powell slammed a couple of sixes at the end, and chipped in with 31 off 32 towards the end as the hosts finished with 205/9 on a good batting wicket.
It never even proved to be a challenging total. Kohli showed why he was a master of chases. After two back-to-back failures, the India captain was back in his element. He was troubled by the short ball early, but Kohli had clearly come prepared for the line of attack. He left the ball when in doubt, and took it on when he was confident to do so.
By the time the penny dropped on the Windies bowlers, Kohli was well set and started to assert his class. He took on the spinners and the pacers with equal ease and went on to notch up his 28th ODI hundred – joint third highest alongside Sanath Jayasuriya. Only Sachin Tendulkar (49) and Ricky Ponting (30) are ahead of him now.
Rahane continued his fine run with another worthy cameo, but threw his wicket away with his side in control. Karthik took his chance in the starting XI with both hands and played a fine hand. His knock of 50 included five fours and will definitely give him great comfort that he was at the crease when India crossed the line. For Kohli, it was business as usual.
Brief scores:Windies 205/9 (Shai Hope 51, Kyle Hope 46, Mohammed Shami 4-48, Umesh Yadav 3-53) lost to India 206/2 (Virat Kohli 111*, Dinesh Karthik 50*) by 8 wickets.