This really must be how opponents of Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan felt back in the day. It didn’t matter whether you neutralized the influence of the other eight New York Yankees batters or the other four men in the Chicago Bulls roster. But if you could negate the effect that Ruth or Jordan single-handedly brought to the game, then you were definitely going to win the contest. Simple.
Virat Kohli must give opposition teams the same feeling. After posting 283, West Indies were against the ropes all evening despite only one India batsman going past 35. That one batsman was Kohli, and as long as he was in the middle, West Indies looked unlikely to win. That’s when Jason Holder took his biggest gamble in the 41st over.
He introduced Marlon Samuels‘ part-time offspin for the first time in this series, the risk paid off right away, Kohli fell for 107, and with that India’s hopes of a win came crashing. A batting line-up lacking depth – with Ravindra Jadeja left out, Bhuvneshwar Kumar batted at No. 7 – folded quickly, and India were bowled out for 240, falling short of their target by 44 runs in front of a sparse crowd that began to make their way out as soon as the India captain was dismissed. West Indies levelled the ODI series to 1-1 after three games and set the five-game contest up beautifully as it approaches its crescendo.
That West Indies eventually did post 283 in the first innings was courtesy Shai Hope‘s second-consecutive fifty-plus score and a 22-ball 40 from Ashley Nurse. Hope saw West Indies slip to 55 for 3 and rebuild a bit before another wobble left them at 121 for 5. But he anchored the innings throughout, looking comfortable against both pace and spin in warm Pune conditions and handed them a promising score by the time he was bowled five short of a third ODI century.
Summarized scores: West Indies 283 for 9 (Hope 95, Nurse 40, Bumrah 3-35) beat India 240 (Kohli 107, Samuels 3-12, McCoy 2-38) by 43 runs