There was no customary Virat Kohli hundred but centurions Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu brought the roof down at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai to help India clobber Windies by 224 runs – their third biggest in terms of runs – in the fourth One-Day International on Friday (October 29). The home team now lead the five-match series 2-1, with a game to go.
Kohli spoke about how Kedar Jadhav will bring that much-required balance to the setup after India lost the third ODI in Pune. However, the home team hardly needed the services of Jadhav as Rohit and Rayudu did most of the damage in the batting department before bowlers took over and knocked Windies out cold. Rohit looked at his very best and blasted 20 fours and four sixes on his way to 137-ball 162. The Mumbai batsman notched up his 21st ODI century but it was the performance of Rayudu that will give more pleasure to the Indian think tank.
India have tried as many as 10 batsmen at the No. 4 slot since the 2015 World Cup but it’s Rayudu who finally seems to be making the position his own with a deep-dyed command. Kohli himself endorsed Rayudu for the vital No. 4 spot and the right-hander seems to be doing no harm to his chances. The 33-year-old is no spring chicken and can play both the role of anchor and aggressor, and that’s what he did on Monday. He took his time to settle down before switching up gears in the final overs.
Windies bowlers looked clueless against Rohit and Rayudu and allowed India to pile up 377 for 5 in their 50 overs. In reply, Indian bowlers hunted in pack and bowled Windies out for mere 153 in 36.2 overs.
Opting to bat, Rohit announced his arrival with a slice over point for a boundary. Like his partner, Shikhar Dhawan too got off the mark with four towards the cover region. It didn’t take duo too long to leapfrog the pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag (3919) in the list of most partnership runs by an Indian opening pair. They are now only behind Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly who accumulated 6609 runs during their career batting together.
Both Rohit and Dhawan looked in solid touch and pounced on every bad delivery. They didn’t allow any bowlers to settle in and tonked three sixes inside seven overs. However, Dhawan once again threw away a fluent start, trying to go hard at Keemo Paul only to end up offering a simple catch to the mid-wicket fielder for 40-ball 38, studded with four fours and two sixes.
With scores of 140, 157* and 107 to his name in the series, Kohli walked out with an eye on the history of becoming only the second batsman (after Kumar Sangakkara) to smash four consecutive centuries in this format. The 29-year-old commenced his innings with a fierce pull shot followed by his signature cover drive. However, Kemar Roach got one to nip away a bit off the pitch and managed to induce a faint edge off Kohli’s willow that landed in the hands of the keeper.
The home team were in a spot of bother after their captain departed for 16 and that’s when Rayudu jumped in to offer some support to Rohit. The two focused more on strike rotation but made sure Windies bowlers didn’t get away with bad deliveries. In the process, Rohit got to his half-century with a scorching pull through mid-wicket. While Rayudu scored at a decent pace, Rohit clearly was more aggressive.
The batsman from Mumbai smacked Windies bowlers all around the park. He got good support from the Windies bowlers who kept bowling short to him and Rohit kept on pulling them towards deep square leg region. Once he got to his century off 98 deliveries, Rohit started to go after almost every ball. Amidst all the mayhem, Rayudu ensured he kept on picking ones and two to keep Rohit more on strike. Holder was forced to bring Marlon Samuels to the attack but unlike in the previous game where he scalped three wickets, the two batsmen smoked him for 14 runs in his only over. This was the over from where India’s run-rate really took off.
Everyone knows how dangerous Rohit can be once he crossed that three-figure mark and today was no different. Rayudu, who was looking to play the second fiddle till then, also joined the party and used the crease to great effect. The 33-year-old played few eye-catching slog-sweeps and mixed it with a couple of voguish cover drives. Meanwhile, Rohit kept toying with the Windies bowlers and brought up his seventh 150+ score in this format. He was on his way to his fourth double ton but fell to Ashley Nurse while playing a lazy cut shot.
Rohit might have stolen all the limelight but Rayudu too did his job and was on 85 when the former departed. While his cover drives were gorgeous, it was that fearsome slog-sweep for a maximum over the cow corner off Roach’s bowling that showed how this man can change his game according to the situation. Rayudu brought up his hundred in the 47th over but was run out soon after.
Out-of-form MS Dhoni (15-ball 23), returning Kedar Jadhav (7-ball 16*) and Ravindra Jadeja (4-ball 7) did their job at the end and helped India set up an improbable target. In total, India amassed 150 runs in the last 13 overs to bat Windies out of the game.
Chasing 374 was never going to easy for Windies but the way they surrendered their weapons was even more disappointing. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who looked rusty in the previous match, gave India the first breakthrough by getting rid of Chandrapaul Hemraj for 14. Shai Hope, who has been the glue of Windies batting lineup, went for a suicidal single two balls later and was run out for a duck with Kuldeep Yadav getting the direct hit.
Kohli, who had a rare bad day with the bat in hand, showed his brilliance on the field, running out Kieran Powell (4) with an under-arm flick to the stumps from the short cover region. Man-in-form Shimron Hetmyer cam out all guns blazing and thrashed two boundaries before getting trapped right in front of the stumps off Khaleel Ahmed’s bowling. By then India knew that they have pocketed the game and then Khaleel dismissed Marlon Samuels (18) and Rovman Powell (1) in the space of few overs to pile more misery on Windies.
Holder (54*) and Paul (19) played a couple of entertaining shots but by then the game was well over. Holder did get to his seventh ODI fifty but could hardly make any difference. For India, Khaleel and Kuldeep scalped three wickets each, while Bhuvneshwar and Jadeja picked up wicket apiece.
Windies will get an opportunity to level the series when they meet India at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday for the fifth and final ODI.