Dharamsala: Virat Kohli struck a rollicking 127 as India fashioned a 59-run win over the West Indies here today, effectively sealing the ODI series 2-1 after the visitors dramatically pulled out from the remainder of the tour over an acrimonious pay dispute with their board.
Kohli reassured that he is back in form and struck a sublime knock off 114 balls to push India to 330 for six after the West Indies put them in to bat on a wicket expected to favour the bowlers.
Opener Ajinkya Rahane(68) and Suresh Raina (71) were the other big contributors to the formidable score, reached also with the help of loose bowling and sloppy fielding from the West Indies.
The West Indies, who made their mind of going back home last night and were somehow convinced to play at least today’s game, found it tough to give their best. Their negative body language affected their overall game, culminating with their unsuccessful chase that ended at 271 all out in 48.1 overs.
A rare positive for them on the day was Marlon Samuels (112 off 106), who raced to his seventh ODI hundred and second in three matches. Samuels crawled to 27 for 2 in 11 overs, making it difficult for them to get near the stiff target.
Samuels fought a lost battle with Darren Bravo (40) chipping in at the top. Andre Russell came up with a 46-run cameo (off 23 balls) towards the end. It seemed that the West Indies were batting on a different wicket to the Indians, who scored runs at will.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/25) and Umesh Yadav (2/44) made the ball talk early on as the opposition batsmen went into their shell.
Samuels at least showed the will to fight and saved his team further embarrassment. He hammered nine fours and six sixes, especially taking spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2/80) to the cleaners. The game poignantly ended with Samuels getting bowled off Mohammed Shami.
Young left-arm spinner Akshar Patel, brought into the side in place of Amit Mishra, ended up with tidy figures of 26 for two in 10 overs.
Earlier, Kohli along with Raina (71) and Rahane (68) made batting look easy on a pitch that was expected to behave differently. Kohli showed his class on way to reaching his
first hundred across formats since February, following which he experienced the first lean patch of his career. With the century, he also became the fastest to score 20 hundreds in ODIs.
The West Indies pace attack was tipped to trouble the Indian batting but they bowled all over the place. It would anyway have been too much to expect from a team which knew before the match that it won’t be playing the remainder of the series including the next ODI in Kolkata, a T20 International and three Test matches.
The unwanted news of a pullout however had not reached the crowd, who cheered vociferously for every run scored by their team.
It was difficult to conceive before the game that the Indian batsmen would find it so smooth on the ground they struggled on during their last match here in January last year, making a modest 226 against England in a lost cause.
The chief curator had promised a fast and bouncy wicket but the decision of shaving off the grass coverage last minute made batting a pleasure on an otherwise true surface.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan (38) and Rahane laid the foundation for a big score with a 70-run stand. The West Indies’ players expectedly found it tough to give their 100 percent to the game and the hosts took full advantage of that.
Kohli and Rahane got together after Dhawan got caught in the deep while attempting a pull shot one time too many. The stylish duo added 72 runs to the score before Rahane was adjudged lbw on a missed sweep shot off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.
Kohli, who showed a glimpse of his brilliance during his fighting 62 in the last match in Delhi, batted much more fluently today. He treated the fans to his trademark shots, from blazing square cuts, wristy flicks to smashing pacers for sixes on front foot.
He took a particular liking to speedster Jerome Taylor, spanking him for two maximums on either side of the side screen. Overall, Kohli hammered 13 fours to go with his three sixes off Taylor, the last one sending the ball out of the park. In an anti-climax, he reached his hundred with an overthrow and was run out off the last ball of the innings.
Kohli’s 138-run partnership with Raina was instrumental in India making a huge score. Needless to say, the negative body language of the West Indies’ players made their task easier.
The visiting team dropped catches with regularity, giving a life each to Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (6) and Jadeja (2). Taylor proved to be their most expensive bowler, leaking 77 runs in nine overs