2nd ODI: Kohli, Iyer and Bhuvneshwar star to put India 1-0 ahead
Bhuvneshwar Kumar swung the balance in India's favour with his three-wicket burst. (AFP Image)

Virat Kohli’s 42nd ODI ton, Shreyas Iyer‘s half-century from No. 5 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s fours wickets emerged the biggest takeaways in India’s strong 59-run (DLS) win over West Indies in Trinidad.

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Kohli’s first ODI century in 12 innings, during which he was partnered by Iyer in a stand of 125, formed the crux of India’s 279/7. It was a total India would have wanted to stretch by another 15-20 runs. But it didn’t matter for Bhuvneshwar’s three-wicket burst in his second spell turned the game on its head. Nicholas Pooran and Roston Chase kept West Indies in with a chance even though they had to keep up with the asking rate. But in a matter of three balls, Bhuvneshwar swung the game in India’s favour, removing both batsmen which was followed by a lower-order collapse which saw them lose seven wickets for 62 runs.

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All this did not happen without a bit of rain. A second spell revised the equation to 270 required off 46 and even with a couple of useful partnerships in the innings, West Indies fell short and were bowled out for 210. There was no explosion from Chris Gayle, playing his 300th ODI. There were partially some from Evin Lewis and Pooran, but neither was convincing enough.

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India scoring just 67 in the final 10 overs did not matter. Kohli’s century-stand with Iyer arrived after he and Rohit Sharma had added 74 important runs for the second wicket after Shikhar Dhawan was gotten rid of cheaply. Sheldon Cottrell rapped Dhawan on the pads, but after Nigel Long’s original decision was not out, West Indies took the review in the nick of time. The reply showed the ball hitting the middle and India were jolted three balls into their innings.

Kohli started off with three crisp boundaries in his first 11 balls. The first was a punch through the covers but as Kohli settled into a more free-flowing groove, his silken wrist work and bottom hand came to the fore. Rohit struggled to get going – it took him 11 balls to get off the mark and even though the opener flicked Jason Holder to mid-wicket and Oshane Thomas down the ground, he fell to a loose shot to Chase

The offspinner pulled things back, bowling a testing line and length to India. Chase bowled 10 consecutive dot balls to Rishabh Pant and the young wicketkeeper batsman, promoted at No. 4 ahead of Iyer, lost patience and was cleaned up by Brathwaite playing a reckless shot. Two wickets in quick succession spurred West Indies to stage a comeback but Kohli and Iyer ensured India marched on.

Kohli looked in imperious nick – the kind of knock one would associate with the India captain. The timing was immaculate and the rotation of strike, spot-on. Milking singles, Kohli reached his half-century of 57 balls. Iyer at No. 5 proved a smart tactic for India. He briskly moved to 22 off 18 with three boundaries including a picture-perfect lap shot. Kohli spoiled Chase’s final over by drilling him down the ground even though the offspinner managed to churn out a tidy 1/37. During the knock, he surpassed Sourav Ganguly as the second-leading run-getter for India on ODIs.

With a single down the ground, Kohli brought up his hundred off 112 balls and went for the charge. He slammed Cottrell towards mid-on and smacked three boundaries off Thomas as the innings entered its last ten overs. Kohli and Iyer collected quite a few boundaries behind square. With wet towels wrapped around their necks, signs of weariness was visible and a tired shot from Kohli led to his dismissal as he top edged Brathwaite to Kemar Roach at long-on.

Iyer took 49 balls to reach his third ODI fifty before rain halted play and resulted in a loss of approximately half an hour. However, once the innings resumed, India lost steam with West Indies returning strongly to pick up three wickets in quick succession. Iyer picked the bones out of a Roach delivery and sent it sailing into the second tier, but was done in by Holder, to whom he walked too far across the stumps and lost his leg stump. Kedar Jadhav was run out while trying to sneak a single and Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave Brathwaite his third.

Gayle went past Brian Lara to become the leading ODI run-scorer for West Indies but that’s all he had to offer as Bhuvneshwar had him out LBW. Evin Lewis scored a few crisp boundaries but his progress was hampered by the calf muscle he injured while playing a pull shot for six. India applied pressure with wickets. Khaleel Ahmed had Shai Hope playing on, and shortly after the second rain interval, Shimron Hetmyer top edged a half-tracker from Kuldeep Yadav to Kohli.

Pooran and Lewis sparked West Indies’ brief revival with a 56-run stand. With Kedar Jadhav and Kuldeep racing through their overs, run dried up. Lewis reached his half-century off 66 balls. He and Pooran brought out the shots to put India under a bit of pump. Kuldeep was expensive but his second wicket – to dismiss Lewis was the shot in the arm India needed before Bhuvneshwar bowled the over of the match.

He beat Pooran with pace who top edged to Kohli. Two balls later, he pulled off a stunning, one-handed return catch to see the back of Chase. Ravindra Jadeja, a late introduction onto the attack, had Brathwaite edging to short third man and West Indies, just like that, had lost three wickets inside two overs and it was all downhill from there. Mohammed Shami made quick work of the tail and victory was sealed to put India 1-0 ahead.

Brief Scores: India 279/7 (Kohli 120, Iyer 71, Brathwaite 3/53) beat West Indies 210 all out (Lewis 65, Pooran 42, Bhuvneshwar 4-31) by 59 runs (DLS method).