Rohit Sharma played yet another spectacular knock as India registered a thumping 224-run victory against the West Indies in the fourth ODI at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai on Monday.
Opting to bat first, India got off to a solid start with Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan taking on the Windies bowlers right from the word go. Both the openers added 71 runs for the first wicket but Dhawan got out for 38, yet again failing to capitalize on a good start. Skipper Virat Kohli suffered a rare failure as he departed for 16, in an attempt to play a shot towards third-man against Kemar Roach. After Kohli's departure, Rohit along with Rayudu consolidated the Indian innings in the middle overs.
Sharma and Rayudu shared a 211-run partnership for the third wicket. While Rohit played a 162-run knock off 137 balls, scoring his world record seventh 150-plus total in ODIs, Rayudu notched up his third century (100 runs off 81 balls). Towards the end, MS Dhoni (23 off 15 balls) and Kedar Jadhav (16 off 7 balls) helped India get past the 350-run mark.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Rohit said: “I have played a lot of cricket at the CCI. It’s a very good pitch and you get value for the shots. You don’t need to hit the ball hard here. You just need to place the ball in the gaps. That’s what I was trying to do. When you come to a ground where you have played enough cricket, you feel confident going into the match.”
“I understand the pitch here and what it does. When spinners are bowling, I know what helps them. I had a lot of opportunity of playing at the CCI and it was about doing what I have always done,” he added.
Rohit, who is the only batsman to have amassed three double tons in ODI cricket, had a chance of slamming his fourth double hundred on Monday but he fell short of the mark by 38 runs.
When asked if the milestone was on the back of his mind, India’s ODI vice-captain said: “It never came across my mind to score a double ton. I always think of scoring as many as runs as possible. The three double hundreds that I have got, I never thought of getting them. Rayudu was telling me from the other end to try to get to a double hundred. But I only wanted to score runs so that we get enough runs because CCI can be tricky in terms of chasing. Thankfully, we bowled well and got them out cheaply.”
In reply, West Indies failed to emulate their batting performances of first three matches. Apart from two run-outs from Kuldeep Yadav and Kohli to get rid of Kieran Powell (4) and Shai Hope (0) early in the innings, it was Khaleel Ahmed’s fiery spell that ripped through the Windies middle-order.
Khaleel removed Marlon Samuels (18) Shimron Hetmyer (13) and Rovman Powell (1) in quick succession to reduce the visitors to 56/6. Afterwards, West Indies couldn’t quite recover as Kuldeep picked up three wickets to bundle out the tourists on 153 in 36.2 overs. For West Indies, skipper Jason Holder waged the lone battle as he scored an unbeaten 54 off 70 balls.
Rohit was full of praise for Khaleel Ahmed, who finished with 3 for 13 in his five overs.
“Khaleel is a very promising prospect. When a left arm pacer comes and swings the ball well, any batsman in the world will find it difficult. Khaleel’s bowling is therefore very important for us,” he asserted.
“He is maturing very fast and he understands his bowling and the management also understands where he needs to be going into the World Cup. If he continues to do well, his bowling can be handy in New Zealand and World Cup where the ball swings a lot,” Rohit Sharma concluded.