Player-of-the-Series against England Jason Holder continued his return to world number one allrounder form at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad today—this time with the bat. But his six-speckled half-century could only get a disappointing West Indies batting line-up to 176 all out in 43.5 overs in the first of three ODIs carded for this series.
Hosts India overhauled the modest target in only 28 overs and for the loss of only four wickets.
Holder (57) came to the wicket with his team in some serious strife at 71 for 5 after skipper Kieron Pollard had been dismissed for a first-ball duck, bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal. Finding an able partner in number 9 Fabian Allen (29 off 43 balls, 2 x 4), the former Test skipper dug his heels in and was second-last man out at 167, having defied the Indian pace and spin attack for 21 overs and 71 balls.
His partnership with Allen moved the score from an embarrassing 79 for 7 with less than half of the allotment of 50 over gone to 157 before he lost his partner. And although the WI hit 13 boundaries in all, not one of them came off his bat.
It was he, however, who was responsible for four of the five times the WI batsmen cleared the boundary ropes, Alzarri Joseph contributing the fifth six and one of the 13 fours.
Not for the first time, Pollard’s side, batting first, found themselves behind the eight ball—put there in part, according to the skipper by jet lag. On the eve of the match, he had complained that the conditions under which his team were starting the series were far from ideal.
They had not even been able to have a full team practice session more than once, Friday’s session restricted to groups of four.
“The most we can do,” he said, “in a short space of time is to try and be in the right mental space. Some of us are still living in the Caribbean time (zone) but we have to get over jet lag.”
That was the plan; it simply did not work.
Winning the toss, India skipper Rohit Sharma asked Pollard to take first strike. And India’s first strike came as early as the third over when pacer Mohammed Siraj breached Shai Hope’s defences and bowled him.
Siraj’s new ball partner, Prasidh Krishna, would later claim Akeal Holder—promoted to number 8 after his impressive showing against England—for a duck and have Holder caught by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.
But it was the spin pair of Chahal and Washington Sundar who would really put the skids under the West Indies batsmen, claiming seven scalps between them.
Sundar (3/30) removed opener Brandon King and number three Darren Bravo in the same over not long after the end of the powerplay. Neither of the two had been able to score freely and both laboured over small two-balls-a-run scores of 13 and 18 respectively.
Man-of-the-Match Chahal (4/49) claimed the next three scalps, including Nicholas Pooran (18 off 25, 3 x 4) who unwontedly did not enter the fray until after Shamarh Brooks. But Chahal deceived the left-hander and had him LBW before knocking back Pollard’s stumps with the next ball and then taking Brooks’ edge for Pant to take an easy catch.
Holder and Allen halted the slide but under 200 was never going to challenge India, despite the loss of four members of their squad to Covid.
When their reply began, Sharma (60 off 51) made the West Indies’ struggles on that pitch and in the day/night conditions look very hard to understand.
He powered his way to ten elegant boundaries and a six, being particularly severe on Kemar Roach, whose five overs went for 41 runs.
By the time he departed off the first ball of the 13th over, LBW to Joseph, there were under 100 runs left and plenty of overs to get them. And although Joseph (2/45) had Virat Kohli caught by Roach just four balls later and Hosein did manage to induce a false shot from Ishan Kishan, the left-arm spinner simply could not match the damage done by his Indian counterparts earlier in the evening.
And after Joseph deflected a Suryakumar Kumar (34* off 36, 5 x 4) drive back onto the stump at the bowler’s end with Pant outside of his crease, the home side coasted effortlessly to their target. Kumar had debutant Deepak Hooda (26* off 32) for company at the end.
Rohit conceded that it was an important toss to win and so his team had the better of the pitch. But he said he was confident that his team would be able to produce the necessary goods.
Pollard’s Maroon Men have only two days to find their feet before they line up against their hosts in Game Two at the same venue on Wednesday.
The WI captain again focused on the need for the batsmen to ‘dig deeper’ and ‘get better with techniques, again myself included’.
Praising the lower-order batting from Holder and Allen and the bowling effort from Joseph and Hosein, he repeated what has now become a mantra for him: “We have to find a way.”
West Indies: 176 all out (Jason Holder 57, Fabian Allen 29; Yuzvendra Chahal 4/49, Washington Sundar 3/30)
India: 178/4 (Rohit Sharma 60, Suryakumar Yadav 34*; Alzarri Joseph 2/45, Akeal Hosein 1/46)
Man of the Match: Yuzvendra Chahal (India)
Result: India won by six wickets (with 132 balls remaining)
India lead the three-match series 1-0