Kuldeep, Rahane star in thumping win

After rain had the final laugh in the first ODI, the story of the second ODI was under threat of being scripted on similar lines. The start was delayed due to rain and after two hours, the weather cleared up and play got underway, eventually. The only repercussion was the game being cut short to a 43-overs-per-side contest. One would’ve thought that a shortened game would sit right by the Windies’ side, but India proved too hot to handle, both with bat and ball. Rahane’s sublime century was followed by some testing spin bowling by Kuldeep Yadav. India showed why they are the better side on paper, beating West Indies by 105 runs.

Once rain made way for cricket, West Indies won the toss and asked India to bat first once again. Both the teams were unchanged going into this game and the start was similar to how it was in the first ODI, for India. Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan got off to a strong start yet again and laid a solid foundation, adding over 100 runs for the opening wicket for the second time in a row in the Caribbean. Shikhar Dhawan made more use of his sublime touch and smashed a stylish half-century.

The West Indies bowlers couldn’t control the flow of runs at the start, as India were scoring them at a pretty good rate. The Indian openers played almost effortlessly and displayed some glorious shots. However, there was a chance which was put down by the West Indian skipper, Jason Holder. Ajinkya Rahane was on 28 when he walked forward and tried to play the ball across the line, but it went to Holder at short mid-wicket, where he failed to grab the opportunity.

Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand simply looked flawless and in great touch, as he notched up another fifty. However, he failed to convert it for the second consecutive time in this series. West Indies eventually managed to break the opening stand on 114 when Dhawan tried to drive through the covers, but the ball missed his outside edge and the keeper, Hope quickly whipped off the bails, giving no time for Dhawan to drag his foot behind the crease. Ashely Nurse was the bowler who gave West Indies their first opening in the innings.

Virat Kohli walked in at number three and took no time to get going. Ajinkya Rahane was striking the ball very sweetly, as he started oozing confidence once he crossed his fifty. The opener was scoring at a quick rate and along with captain Kohli, added a promising partnership. India lifted their run-rate even further and were scoring over 6 runs per over by the 25th over.

There was an appeal for a leg before wicket in the 28th over, when the ball struck Rahane on his pads. The umpire gave it not out but West Indies took a review. Replays showed that it was umpire’s call with the ball clipping the leg stump. The pause didn’t stop Rahane from going after the bowling and he went on to score his third ODI hundred. His knock was filled with marvellous strokeplay and calculative hitting. He got out as soon as he got to his century though, when he tried to pull a short ball but the stumps ended up being disturbed after he got bowled. Interestingly, only one bail came off the groove!

Considering his wide range of hitting, Hardik Pandya was promoted to number four with nine overs left in the innings. He got lucky on his first delivery, when he edged one behind, to the keeper but he was called back as replays showed that the bowler, Alzarri Joseph had overstepped and it was a front foot no ball. Luck didn’t stay by Hardik’s side for long though. After a couple of braces, he flashed one outside off and mistimed the ball towards third man in the same over to end his brief stay on four runs.

Yuvraj Singh joined the on-song Kohli who got to his half-century soon after. The skipper went all ballistic right after getting to the mini-landmark smashing Cummins for a four and a six in the 38th over to take India’s score beyond 250. Yuvraj’s stay at the crease was brief too, nicking a widish delivery to the keeper. However, events at the other end didn’t bog Kohl down. He picked off the bowlers for a boundary or a six with authority, as Dhoni joined him. The former skipper turned the strike over to Kohli so that he could have a go at the bowlers.

In the penultimate over of the innings, Kohli tried to send an Alzarri Joseph slower one into the crowd, but played the shot a tad bit early. He holed out in the deep, at long on, walking back on a dismissive 66-ball 87, and perhaps missing out on a century too. Jadhav and Dhoni made complete use of the final over which had 9 balls in it, courtesy the three no-balls that Holder bowled. The duo picked up 22 runs in the over and pummelled India to 310 in the allotted 43 overs. West Indies would’ve been disappointed with the way they bowled, especially in the death overs, where they leaked boundaries and sixes at a fair clip.

Going into the second innings, the momentum was on India’s side and Bhuvneshwar Kumar played on the advantage in his first over itself. On the third ball of the first over of the innings, Powell slashed hard at a length delivery and the Indians appealed lightly. The umpire didn’t raise his finger, but then India felt that it was apt to take the review, which Kohli did. The Snicko detected a faint noise and Powell was on his way to the pavilion.

Kumar wasn’t done yet! In his second over, the third of the innings, Jason Mohammed went after a fullish delivery, sans footwork and balance, only to be caught by Hardik Pandya at point. West Indies were in early trouble on 4/2. The pair of Kumar and Umesh Yadav kept it very tight in the first ten overs, conceding just 31 runs.

Ashwin and Pandya were brought on after the first ten, and they followed suit, bowling tight lines and lengths and kept the batsmen guessing. Hope and Lewis had a hard time figuring out Ashwin’s variations and were left puzzled on several occasions. Kuldeep Yadav who made his ODI debut in the first game, but couldn’t get an opportunity to bowl, came on in the 14th over. Hope saw an opening and dispatched the chinaman for a couple of boundaries in his first over. The two batsmen continued to attack him, picking him off for a boundary each in the 18th over of the innings. A partnership seemed to be building for the Windies. Hope hit both the spinners for a maximum each to spike up the run-rate.

Kuldeep breathed a sigh of relief as he deceived Lewis with some smart flight, beating him and letting Dhoni complete the stumping to give him his maiden ODI wicket. Jonathan Carter strolled out to the centre and the wicket brought the run-rate down for the Windies. Kuldeep and Pandya bowled a few tight overs in tandem and built more pressure on Hope.

Hope decided to free himself from the chains and smacked Kuldeep for a brilliant six towards the cover region, in the 26th over. On the very next delivery, Hope was struck on his pad and India appealed very hard, only to be turned down by the umpire. Kuldeep seemed confident and Kohli backed his bowler, taking the review. The on-field call was overturned as the Hawk-Eye showed three reds. Hope’s valiant knock came to an end on 81 and Kuldeep had his second scalp.

From there on, West Indies never looked like getting close to India’s target. Carter’s 31-ball struggle ended in the 30th over as he missed a sweep off Ashwin’s bowling and got trapped right in front of the stumps. Roston Chase joined his skipper and they managed to pick up a few boundaries every now and then. The question that remained – was it enough? With the ever-rising required rate, Holder and Chase hit a six and a four, respectively off Umesh Yadav in the 33rd over. The hosts still needed 155 runs off the final ten overs.

Yuvraj Singh was handed the ball, and he bowled a couple of miserly overs too. The pressure kept n building and Holder was frustrated, as he tried to send a Kuldeep flighter into orbit. However, he missed the ball and that allowed Dhoni to have another stumping. Kuldeep got his third wicket, and deservingly so. Boundaries nearly became a thing of the past, as the Indian bowlers continued to hold the tight lid over the Windies batsmen. Since Holder’s wicket, they could manage just the one four till the end of the full quota of overs. West Indies ended up on 205/6.

The second ODI clearly showed the quality of India’s batting and bowling. West Indies will look to bowl better at the death and pace their innings in the next ODI. There were a few positives for the hosts as well. Hope’s knock gave them some belief that the target was chasuble and the bowling had glimpses of sharpness too. Their batsmen will look to take a leaf or two out of the Indian batsmen’s books. India though, will be thrilled with the win, and more so by the way they bowled. Kuldeep Yadav was attacked by Hope and Lewis, but he didn’t back off from a fight and got the better of the batsmen, picking three wickets on his debut. India will look to keep the pressure on the Windies, when they meet for the third ODI, on Friday, 30th June in Antigua.

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