Virat Kohli stroked a commanding, unbeaten 111 to lead India to a series-clinching eight-wicket win over the West Indies in the fifth and final one-day international at Sabina Park on Thursday.
Responding to the home side’s modest total of 205 for nine after captain Jason Holder chose to bat first in Jamaica, the visitors’ skipper ensured there was no repeat of the previous game. India reached the target in the 37th over to give India a 3-1 series triumph.
Stung by an 11-run defeat in the fourth match in Antigua, when they failed to reach an even smaller target of 190, the Indians were in no mood to let their opponents off the hook this time around.
An early strike by fast bowler Alzarri Joseph removed Shikhar Dhawan at the start of the chase and ushered in Kohli who immediately took the attack to the bowlers.
He put on 79 for the second wicket with Ajinkya Rahane before the opener fell leg-before to spinner Devendra Bishoo. It was his first score under 50 in the series.
Dinesh Karthik joined his leader in the 19th over and was prepared to play the supporting role to a rampant Kohli, his 28th ODI century coming up off 108 deliveries with one six and 12 fours decorating his authoritative innings.
Karthik reached an unbeaten 50 in an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 122 just before Kohli finished the match with his second six off Roston Chase.
“Today was another clinical performance for us. Winning in a chase is always a nice feeling,” said Kohli after receiving the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
“It’s always about getting the team over the line. It’s not about personal stats and personal achievements but ensuring we get to the target that’s on the scoreboard.”
Earlier, opening bowlers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav shared seven wickets amongst them to restrict the West Indies after they were well poised at 76 for one in the 16th over.
– Hope brothers deliver –
Seeking victory to earn a share of the honours from a campaign in which they entered as huge underdogs, the home side’s only substantial contributions came from the Hope brothers, Shai and Kyle.
Shai topscored with 51, his second half-century of the series, while Kyle contributed 46 at the top of the order.
All-rounders Holder and Rovman Powell got to 36 and 31 respectively but failed to capitalise on decent starts as India tightened the screws on their opponents with disciplined bowling from the two frontline seamers towards the end of the innings.
Shami finished with four for 48 while Yadav completed his ten-over spell with three wickets at a cost of 53 runs.
Despite their combined successes, it was Hardik Pandya who made the first breakthrough. Brought on to facilitate a switching of ends by Shami and Yadav, he induced a loose drive from Evin Lewis to have him caught at mid-off.
Shai joined Kyle Hope and the pair attempted to accelerate on a pitch that appeared much better for batting than for the last two games at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Kyle took a particular liking to Yadav, smashing him for consecutive boundaries.
But the bowler had the last laugh as the batsman found Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket attempting another boundary in the same over.
Chase’s miserable series with the bat continued when he was trapped leg-before to the very next delivery from Yadav and it was left to Holder to give the innings some momentum.
“I keep stressing to the guys that they’ve got to learn as quickly as possible because I’m tired of going over the same things every time and the guys need to take ownership of their own actions,” said a frustrated Holder.
“We really need to make good use of the limited time we have between series and come back better.”
He dominated a 48-run fifth-wicket partnership with Shai Hope, only to depart to Shami at the start of his second spell.
India conclude this brief visit to the Caribbean on Sunday when they take on the West Indies in a solitary T20 international at the same venue.