After constructing a match-winning stand of 246 for the second wicket in India’s win in the first ODI at Guwahati, captain Virat Kohli said he asked his partner Rohit Sharma to play the “anchor role”. Kohli, who was named man of the match for his 140, joined Rohit with India at 10/1 chasing 323 for victory. By the time he was dismissed in the 33rd over, the score read 256 and India were on course for a comfortable win. Rohit remained unbeaten on 152 as India completed the chase with nearly eight overs to spare.
“320+ totals are always tricky,” said Kohli in the post-match presentation. “But we knew it's all about one partnership. And life isn't difficult when Rohit is at the other end. It happens rarely that Rohit plays second fiddle. But today I felt good and I told Rohit that he should play the anchor role. I've always enjoyed batting with him.”
This was the sixth time that Kohli and Rohit have put on a stand in excess of 200. Kohli, who has now scored a century in three of the last four ODI matches, has also scored 22 centuries while chasing. And the Indian captain seems determined to continue his dream run for as long as he can.
“I have a few years left to enjoy the sport,” he said. “Playing for the country is a matter of pride, so you can't take any game lightly. And I like being honest to the sport you love. You're playing for India, not everyone gets to do that, so that needs to be respected.”
While India did produce a masterclass with the bat, the management will be concerned that the bowlers conceded in excess of 300 against a Windies batting line up that was missing several key players. However, Kohli was sympathetic towards his bowlers’ effort on the day, saying the conditions were loaded in favour of the batsmen.
“When a side like West Indies bat like that, it's hard to contain them,” he said. “We did get wickets, but they were going hard at us so it would be difficult to blame the bowlers on such a good batting pitch.”
Indian bowler Ravindra Jadeja weighed in on his teammates' brilliant performance after the match saying, "If they are set, it's tough to get them out. They can hit ground strokes and in the air with equal ease. It becomes tough against such batters."
"They played proper cricketing shots. They did not take any chances, they were just playing according the situation. The ball was coming nicely onto the bat. It was an ideal condition for the batsmen," said the left-arm spinner.
Jadeja also explained why the team management chose three seamers over spinners saying, "We didn't know how the wicket would behave, this being the first ODI here. We thought three seamers will help to contain the batsmen in the powerplay."
For the Windies, although they produced a much better batting performance that in the Test series, the defeat is sure to rankle. Captain Jason Holder marked out centurion Shimron Hetmyer for special praise and said they would have had a bigger total to defend had he batted on for a little bit longer.
“Credit to Hetmyer. It is always good to see youngster perform well. I thought it was a decent effort with the bat but it was difficult for the spinners under the lights,” Holder said. “I felt we were at par, and then we got Shikhar Dhawan's early wicket, but all credit to Kohli and then Rohit who took it away. In hindsight, we needed a few partnership breakers.”
The two sides will meet again on Wednesday in Visakhapatnam for the second of the five-match ODI matches.