Rain has been the biggest worry in the three-match ODI series between India and West Indies, forcing the final contest to be reduced to a 35-over contest. Not that it bothered the Indian cricket team as they were on top of proceedings ever since the dismissal of Chris Gayle, who was at his rampant best, and romped home to win the series 2-0.
Once again Virat Kohli aced the chase with his 43rd century and Shreyas Iyer (65 off 41 balls), who scored his second half century in as many games, provided able company as India outclassed West Indies in the final ODI at Port-of-Spain by 6 wickets (by DLS method) after Ravindra Jadeja had earlier successfully kept the hosts from building on the flying start from the openers.
Gayle came into bat with only one thing in mind – rollback the years and attack the bowlers.
Whether it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami or Khaleel Ahmed (3/68) no Indian pacer was spared with Gayle hammering with remarkable ease. Gayle hit five sixes and eight fours in his 41 ball knock. Yuzvendra Chahal was the only one who commanded some respect from Gayle.
Soon Gayle was caught out in the deep by Kohli, who then led a special send-off for the West Indian icon. Gayle put his helmet on the top of his bat's handle and lifted the bat in the air while walking off.
West Indies were at 158/2 in 22 overs thanks to Gayle’s heroics when rain forced play to stop and at resumption the contest was reduced to 35-overs-a-side.
Once the players returned to the field, Jadeja (1/26) and Mohammad Shami (2/50) applied the brakes on the hosts.
Shai Hope (24) and Shimron Hetmyer (25) resumed the innings but they did not last long, before Nicholas Pooran took Jadeja and Chahal for runs during a whirlwind 16-ball-30.
Shami struck again by sending back Pooran, who chipped a full-length delivery straight to Manish Pandey. Carlos Brathwaite added 16 runs with a six and a four as West Indies finished with 240/7, which was then corrected by Duckworth-Lewis calculations to target of 255 of 35 overs.
India with Rohit Sharma (10) and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order began in busy manner, before the stylish right hander was run out in a rather ugly manner. Dhawan, at the other end, struck a run-a-ball 36 which included five crisp boundaries and showed signs of settling in for a big knock.
Jason Holder however brought in Fabian Allen and he immediately removed Dhawan before Rishabh Pant gifted his wicket away a couple of balls later.
Allen had done the trick for his skipper as Shreyas Iyer, who is looking to cement his spot in the team, joined a fuming Kohli.
The duo proceeded to steady the ship before Iyer broke the shackles with three massive sixes in very short time to take the pressure of his captain, who had been dropped by Shai Hope on 11 off Keemo Paul’s delivery.
Kohli seemed to have picked up from where he left off in the second ODI, completed yet another half-century with relative ease, shortly after Iyer, who had already clobbered four sixes, reached the milestone too with a cracking cut through point.
India was keen on staying ahead of the run-rate at all times, and Kohli and Iyer put their foot on the pedal – driving, flicking and cutting away to glory. Iyer however wasn’t around to see it through to the end as Kemar Roach accounted for him.
Kohli, with Kedar Jadhav (19*) in tow, creamed Holder through the covers to reach 99 and then took a single to complete his 43rd ODI century with India well and truly in command.
A few lusty blows and 16 balls later Kohli unbeaten on 114 hit the winning runs as India produced another superb performance to finish off an entertaining encounter.
BDST: 1037 HRS, AUG 15, 2019