India vs West Indies 1st ODI: India take 1-0 lead behind brilliant all-round performance

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Kohli’s stellar innings of 86 earned him the Man of the Match award

India drew first blood in the ODI series as a superb all-round team performance helped them breeze past the West Indies by six wickets in the first ODI in Kochi.

India’s spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina claimed three wickets apiece, while Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli both smashed half-centuries.

West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo won the toss and chose to bat first.

However, the men from the Caribbean got off to a horrible start as flamboyant opening batsman Chris Gayle was run out for a duck.

To make matters worse, he landed awkwardly on his knee and had to be stretchered off the pitch.

Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels made up for the early loss of Gayle with a fantastic 65-run partnership before Charles was out caught and bowled by Jadeja for 42 off 34 balls, which included seven boundaries and a six.

Samuels failed to last much longer as he was clean bowled for 24 off a delivery from Raina that kept extremely low.

After losing Charles and Samuels in quick succession, Darren Bravo and Lendl Simmons steadied the West Indian innings with a brilliant 65-run partnership before Simmons was out lbw to become Raina’s second victim of the day.

Following Simmons’ dismissal, the West Indies’ middle and lower order started to collapse.

Despite the collapse, Bravo was still able to bring up his half-century before finally succumbing to the pressure and being clean bowled by Mohammed Shami for a magnificent 59 off 77 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two sixes.

With the tailenders failing to put up much of a fight, the West Indies were bowled out for 211.

Jadeja and Raina were the pick of the Indian bowlers with three wickets apiece, while Ravichandran Ashwin snapped up two wickets and Shami chipped in with one.

Chasing a relatively straightforward target of 212, India got off to a rocky start as opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan was caught behind off the bowling of Jason Holder for just five runs.

However, Sharma and Kohli avenged Dhawan’s wicket with an outstanding 133-run partnership, during which both batsmen recorded their half-centuries, before Sharma was caught by Simmons at deep midwicket off the bowling of Ravi Rampaul for 72.

Sharma’s excellent innings of 72 came off 81 balls and included eight boundaries and a six.

Just as Kohli was looking likely to score his 18th ODI century, he attempted one big shot too many and was caught by Sunil Narine off the bowling of Holder.

Kohli’s stellar knock of 86 came off 84 deliveries and included nine boundaries and two maximums.

Kohli’s innings marked yet another milestone in his career as he equalled legendary West Indian batsman Sir Vivian Richards’ record as the fastest batsman to score 5,000 ODI runs.

While Raina may have succeeded with the ball, he failed to do the same with the bat as he sliced a delivery from Narine straight to Holder at point to be dismissed for a duck.

There were no more nasty surprises for India as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh led them across the finish line with just under 15 overs to spare.

Holder was the most successful West Indian bowler with two wickets, while Rampaul and Narine picked up one wicket apiece.

Bravo was disappointed with his team’s lacklustre performance and stated that he had expected his batsmen to put up more of a fight.

“We fell short of our batting target,” he said. “We felt we were below par. We have to take responsibility for this. We didn’t adjust to the style of play. It’s not a 300 or 290 wicket, if you can get to 250 it could have been a bit different.

“Rampaul and Holder bowled very well so that is good signs for us going into the next game. We got out at the wrong time, apart from Samuels and Bravo who had two balls beyond their control. I think it’s a very small ground so our batters are aggressive by nature, so when the field is spread or the spinners come on, we don’t have the ability to rotate the strike. Batting first and posting a poor total is not good enough.”

Dhoni was ecstatic to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series and praised his side for their “fantastic performance”.

“I think it was a fantastic performance,” he said. “Could have been even better if one of the batsmen scored a 100. I think the spinners did the job for us. We didn’t start very well, with the ball coming on nicely. There was a bit of variable bounce which assisted our fast bowlers. Overall I think the spinners did the job and keep the pressure on.

“It was not easy for the opposition to rotate the strike, so they had to go for the big strokes. I thought it was a wicket where the spinners can do the job, so I thought let’s start with Raina. He bowls slightly flattish and can be of good effect with the variable bounce. The first wicket he got didn’t bounce much. Ashwin we had a few overs, plus Jadeja, so it was hard for the right handers to hit Jadeja, with the lower order batsmen batting left-handed.

“I think they (Dhawan, Rohit, Virat) have been batting really well. Again Virat was brilliant. I thought our bowlers did well and the batsmen negotiated the new ball really well. There was not many runs to be scored, but still they batted really well, especially of Narine who was spinning it both ways.

“Crowd has been fantastic, and keeping in mind of the humidity, it takes the toll on the body when you have to play three games. The crowd came out in good numbers, so even if it was hot for us, it was even worse for them. It takes a lot of toil so let’s have a good rest now.”

Kohli was named Man of the Match for his scintillating innings of 86.

“When we fielded I sorted out how to play, needed to play with a straight bat. Just wanted to play as straight and late as I can close to the body,” he said. “Started timing it well so it gave me confidence and kept me going from there. The ball might keep low at any point of time so need to keep a straight bat.

“Me and Rohit were conscious about playing as straight as we can. The idea was to just play straight and keep rotating the strike. Usually Shikhar and Rohit were giving us a good start, but Shikhar went out early. I just watch the ball and react. Later on we switches gears and it was nice to have to bat with him (Rohit).

“Last year we played here against England and the crowd was fantastic. It’s always nice to have a stadium so full of people and loud like this. It helps to pep you up. It’s very different, I mean coming to November end, imagine what it must be like in June or May? We were out of steam and everyone was struggling. It was different conditions and we had to battle it out.”

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