Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma
Kohli and Rohit added 246 runs for the second wicket (IANS Photo)

A batting masterclass from captain Virat Kohli and a typical century from Rohit Sharma helped India chase down 323 with ridiculous ease against West Indies in the first ODI of the five-match series in Guwahati. Kohli scored 140 while Rohit remained unbeaten on 152 as India took a 1-0 lead at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing 323, India made 326/2 in 42.1 overs.

West Indies did well to post a challenging 323/8 thanks to a strokeful century from Shimron Hetmyer but there was a feeling that it wasn’t going to be enough against an Indian batting order that has been unstoppable in home conditions.

West Indies were to learn that soon despite an early success in Shikhar Dhawan (4). Kohli, back as captain after being rested for Asia Cup, was offered a healthy diet of short deliveries which he gleefully accepted, converting them into sumptuous boundaries. He set the tone as Rohit, in his usual fashion, took the back seat, paving the way for his captain to lead the show. Oshane Thomas, one of the two debutants from the Windes, had tasted an early success. However, reality soon hit the young pacer hard as he dropped two short deliveries which were summarily guided to midwicket and over backward point by Kohli who reached his half-century off the 35th delivery faced.

Meanwhile, as Kohli neared a century, Rohit reached fifty of his own and soon picked up the pace. Soon Kohli reached his 36th ODI century, his first in the format at home in 2018. It was his 22nd in chases and 14th as captain.

There was a period when India belted 49 runs in five overs with the pair completing a double-century stand. Rohit took 84 deliveries to reach his 20th century. Kohli was out after being stumped off Devendra Bishoo but not before he had struck 21 fours and two sixes for his 107-ball 140. The pair was separated after adding 246 runs for the second wicket.

Rohit then took over the chase as he struck 15 fours and eight sixes – the last of which also sealed the chase.

West Indies must have fancied their chances after a strong batting performance helped them to a challenging total. Hetmyer scored 106 off 78 while Kieran Powell 51 off 39 to power the innings after Kohli opted to field.

On a track that offered bounce but not threatening enough, West Indies maintained a brisk scoring rate but their innings was peppered with loose strokes which prevented a full-blown explosion. Kieran was threatening from the word go, hitting the first ball of the match from Mohammed Shami, playing in his first ODI in over a year, for a boundary. Debutant Hemraj Chandrapaul also dazzled with consecutive fours off Shami before becoming his victim on 9.

Powell, unfazed by the early jolt, continued playing confidently, hitting two fours in the first over of young left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed. Shai Hope gave him good support, allowing him to reach a ninth ODI fifty off 36 deliveries. He failed to build on it after holing out on 51. Marlon Samuels (0) lasted two deliveries in his 200th ODI before becoming Yuzvendra Chahal’s (3/41) first victim of the innings. 84/1 became 114/4 before Hetmyer found support from Rovman Powell and captain Jason Holder.

He began cautiously, before pulling Chahal for his first four – a pull to midwicket boundary. Shami was belted for a six and four off consecutive deliveries and soon Hetmyer had reached his fifty. With West Indies looking to have seized control, Ravindra Jadeja cleaned up Rovman (22) to break the 74-run stand .

Hetmyer shifted gears in the company of Holder who offered solid support. His first fifty came in 41 deliveries and he took just 33 for the next, reaching a third ODI century with a six off Shami. After his dismissal, Windies innings, again, seemed to be going off track before the lower order pair of Kemar Roach (26*) and Bishoo (22*) added 44 runs to push them well past the 300-run mark.

Brief Scores: India 326/2 (Rohit Sharma 152*, Virat Kohli 140) beat West Indies 322/8 (Shimron Hetmyer 106, Kieran Powell 51; Yuzvendra Chahal 3/41) by eight wickets