Virat Kohli was once again leading India in a big chase. The Indian cricket team skipper notched up his 55th fifty and was on course to create history. However, on 85, Keemo Paul produced a good length delivery which Kohli drove at but the ball cannonned back onto the stumps. With India needing 30 off 23 balls, West Indies were on course to cause a major upset. However, Shardul Thakur struck a six and a four off Sheldon Cottrell and Ravindra Jadeja struck some good blows towards the end as India ended the decade on a high with a four-wicket win at the Barabati stadium in Cuttack on Sunday and in the process went on to achieve their 10th straight bilateral series win against the West Indies.
The West Indies put up a good show in the Twenty20 International and ODI series but yet again, they let crucial opportunities slip. India's death bowling stumbled and the likes of Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran made them pay as they smashed 118 runs in the final 10 overs. Chasing a total of 316, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul started positively. Rohit started brilliantly with a six and a four off Jason Holder and he was given good support by Rahul. Both batsmen notched up their fifties comfortably and the opening partnership put India on course.
However, Holder broke the 121-run stand when Rohit, on 63, drove at a good length ball without moving his feet to edge it to the keeper. Kohli was peppered with the short ball as this was the delivery with which he got out for a golden duck in Vizag. However, the Indian skipper controlled the pull shot well and Rahul neared his century with an effortlessly flicked six off Alzarri Joseph. With Windies employing the short ball, they continued to reap rewards as Rahul top-edged the short delivery to Shai Hope for 77.
Kohli showed his intent with a couple of fours off Joseph but India lost wickets at the other end. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant hit a boundary but they both fell in quick succession. Kedar Jadhav started with a couple of fours but he was undone by a wonderful delivery from Cottrell which nipped back in and breached through the defences. Ravindra Jadeja started well and Kohli looked in fine touch with a couple of fours off Kharry Pierre. With Jadeja also finding the boundary, India were coasting towards a win. West Indies, though, had a bit of life with the wicket of Kohli but Thakur ensured that India achieved a successful chase of 300+ for the 17th time.
West Indies Show Fight
However, the fans at the Barabati stadium witnessed a superb contest and it was made possible thanks to some brilliant hitting from Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard towards the end. India inserted West Indies in and they handed a debut to Navdeep Saini. West Indies started slowly and although Evin Lewis hit a couple of fours off Navdeep Saini, they struggled to get momentum. At the other end, Shai Hope was scoring at a confident rate. Ravindra Jadeja got the wicket of Lewis as he misuced a lofted shot and Mohammed Shami responded with the wicket of Hope as he got rid of the well-set batsman with a ball that nipped back in.
Hetmyer signalled his intentions with a six off Kuldeep Yadav and Roston Chase hit two boundaries off Jadeja. Hetmyer looked ominous with a four and a six off Shardul Thakur but Saini came back in his spell and produced a dream spell. The debutant sent back Hetmyer with a short ball and then Chase with a perfect yorker. However, West Indies skipper Pollard showed his intention with two big sixes off Kuldeep Yadav. Pooran also thumped Thakur with a six and in the death overs, he blasted two more sixes off Kuldeep as 16 runs came in the 43rd over.
Pooran raced past fifty with three fours off Saini and he neared a century with two fours and a six but in the quest for big hits, Pooran upper-cut the bowler to deep point to fall for 89. Pollard slammed two fours and a six off Saini and he ended the innings in style with two sixes off Mohammed Shami as West Indies posted a big total. However, the determination of India to end the decade in style was evident and they gave the fans at the Barabati plenty of cheer heading into the new decade.