Once upon a time, there was witty ditty in Australian cricket — ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; if Thommo don’t get ya, then Lillee must.’
Of course, the lines were referred to two of its all-time great quicks, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, and it was believed that on days when Lillee would fail to take wickets, Thomson will take charge and win games for the team.
Years later, it looks like Indian cricket, too, will soon have to come up with something similar, thanks to captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
They seem to have decided that on days when captain Kohli would fail to fire with the bat, Rohit would step up, ensuring that the side sails through.
And on Monday was one such occasion when Kohli — coming from a hat-trick of centuries in the series — fell for just 16, but Rohit stepped up, displaying a gritty knock of 162.
That ensured India put up 377-5 and eventually set the stage for its huge 224-run win against the West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
Chasing a mammoth total, the Windies was bundled out for 153, allowing the host side to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series.
Back to his hometown, it was a delight to watch Rohit bat with supremacy and belting another top-notch hundred — the 21st of his career and the second of the series.
After playing an unbeaten knock of 152 in the first ODI in Guwahati, Sharma had failed to convert starts into big hundreds. But at his favourite Brabourne, the Mumbai boy had a go at the Caribbean bowlers.
Rohit’s 162 came off 137 balls and was crafted with 20 boundaries and four sixes. And, in the process, he stitched a crucial 211-run third wicket stand with the other centurion Ambati Rayudu.
Rayudu, who did not get big scores in the series so far, brought up his third ODI ton in just 81 balls. His innings was laced with eight boundaries and four sixes.
Opting to bat after winning the toss, India started off with a 71-run opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan (38) and Rohit. Windies dented India with two quick wickets as Kohli followed Dhawan.
But, it was a good chance for Rayudu to not only stamp his authority but also emerge as a strong contender for the No. 4 slot, leading up to the 2019 World Cup.
Even after Rohit’s exit, Rayudu toyed with the Windies bowlers, along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made a 15-ball 23.
For the visiting side bowlers, it turned out to be a tough day as pace spearhead Kemar Roach leaked 74 runs, bagging a couple of wickets.
While the flat deck benefitted the Indians, things changed when the Windies came to chase the mammoth total.
With young pacer, Khaleel Ahmed putting the visiting side under pressure by clinching three wickets for 13 runs, the Windies was never in the game. Kuldeep Yadav too grabbed three of wickets, conceding 42 runs.
For a visiting team, it is always a tough task to chase a huge total, but going by the way Windies had fared in its last two outings — a tie in Visakhapatnam and a win in Pune — there were hopes that the side will put up a tough fight.
But that did not happen. With two of its top batters — Kieran Powell and Shai Hope — getting run out in quick succession, early in the innings, Windies needed a solid partnership.
But with Shimron Hetmyer and Marlon Samuels too faltering, the visiting side could not stage a fightback.
Though captain, Jason Holder, tried putting up some quick runs towards the end and remained unbeaten on 54, his efforts were not enough to save the team from defeat.
With heavy rains in the forecast during the final ODI in Thiruvananthapuram later this week, it was important for the teams to take a lead.
While this defeat dashed Windies’ dream of bagging the series, India left the iconic Brabourne Stadium with a happy feeling.
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