- 03 Dec 2011, 13:08
Kohli and Rohit overpower West Indies
India 270 for 5 (Kohli 117, Rohit 90*) beat West Indies 269 for 9 (Rampaul 86*, Simmons 78, Yadav 3-38) by five wickets
Lendl Simmons withstood like the boy on the burning deck, while Ravi Rampaul shot from the hip like the last man standing. Their half-centuries were stirring for they created them from ruins, but neither led West Indies to victory. Instead, Virat Kohli's methodical century, which enhanced his growing stature as an expert of the chase, and Rohit Sharma's efficient finishing act, prevailed and led India to a 2-0 lead on a drizzly day in Visakhapatnam.
India's bowlers had a critical role in the victory as well, before they were rendered bereft of ideas by Rampaul's record-breaking assault at No. 10. Umesh Yadav and Vinay Kumar, the new-ball operators, exploited rare seam-bowling conditions on the subcontinent and cut through the West Indian top order. Under cloudy skies, on a cracked pitch that had bounce, they used consistent outswing to help reduce West Indies to 149 for 8 despite defiance from Simmons. The end should have quickly followed, but it didn't, because Rampaul blitzed 86 off 66 balls and added 99 for the tenth wicket to lead West Indies to 269 for 9.
The chase was not hiccup-free either. India suffered two early wickets and the loss of an off-colour Sehwag - whose 26 lacked enough strike and momentum - to slip to 84 for 3 in the 17th over. Sehwag could have fallen on 1 and 15 but was dropped by Darren Sammy and Darren Bravo, who is as poor a fielder as he is promising a batsman.
The moments that cost West Indies most, however, were the let-offs Kohli had. On 24, Kohli swiveled and tried to pull Andre Russell, a shot he would execute with success later during his eighth century. This time Denesh Ramdin failed to catch the ball and the umpire did not signal leg-byes. On 40, Kohli drove the ball hard back at the bowler Marlon Samuels, who couldn't hold on as he dived to his right. Kohli gave West Indies no more chances.
Rohit had a painful start to his innings. His third ball was a short one from Rampaul and it thudded into the glove of his bottom hand. Three balls later Rohit retorted with a audacious pull off the front foot that sent the ball into the crowd beyond the midwicket boundary. It was the start of a 163-run partnership that decided the game.
Though the challenge was sizeable, Kohli and Rohit ensured the asking-rate, which hit a run a ball for the first time after 23 overs, was always under control. Sammy, unlike his counterpart Sehwag who often had six fielders in the circle when India were bowling, spread his field and the batsmen were able to whittle down the target without risking their wickets.
There were a few more tense moments as the contest entered its home stretch. After closing the gap between runs required and balls left with five boundaries in ten balls - Kohli 3, Rohit 2 - Kohli was dismissed for 117. Raina was caught behind hooking a short ball soon after, and India needed 22 off 24 balls. Rohit, however, did the job he didn't do in Cuttack. He stayed the course, striking a six over long-off to reach 90 and then watching from the other end as the game was won.
A few hours earlier, the match didn't look like it would go into its 99th over. The floodlights were on as play began after a delayed start in front of a strong crowd and Yadav didn't take long to give them reason to roar. In the second over, he produced a late outswinger that grazed Adrian Barath's outside edge en route to the wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.
A feature of Yadav's bowling was how upright the seam was before the ball hit the pitch and seamed away. Sehwag had a third slip because of all the movement, and when Samuels edged Yadav, Raina dived to his right and took a low catch. West Indies were 25 for 2.
Simmons went on the attack, stylishly whipping Yadav to the square-leg boundary, and walking out of his crease to drive Vinay on the up through extra cover to bring up 1000 career runs. At the other end, there was false promise from Bravo, who flicked and straight drove Varun Aaron for fours before lofting Vinay to the fielder at mid-on. Two balls later, Danza Hyatt was walking back for nought.
Only after Ramdin - Yadav's third wicket - departed with his team reeling at 63 for 5, did things begin to look up for West Indies. Simmons reached his half-century and Pollard brought up the 50 partnership by launching the offspinner R Ashwin over the straight boundary. He followed that with another six over wide long-on next ball. Another slump was around the corner, though.
Pollard, Sammy and Russell fell in quick time and it was then that Rampaul made his entrance. He swept Ashwin for four and clubbed him over long-on, before targeting Jadeja and scoring two more fours. Between those braces of shots, Simmons had been run out for 78.
The boundaries were small but Rampaul would have cleared larger ones today. He brought up his half-century off 35 balls and hit half a dozen sixes and as many fours, most of them swung with power on the leg side. There was an inevitability about how the innings ended, with Rampaul slamming Aaron over the straight boundary. He walked off the field with a composed look on his face, knowing the job was only half done. He wouldn't be able to complete it, though.
"I was Born Intelegent But Education Ruined me . "