India skipper Virat Kohli said it was his turn to step up and take responsibility after the fall of early wickets in the second ODI against the West Indies, which the visitors won riding on his 42nd hundred in the format.
The 30-year-old took command of the proceedings after the early fall of in-form openers Shikhar Dhawan (2) and Rohit Sharma (18) and smashed 120 off 125 balls to help India post 279 for seven in the rain-curtailed game on Sunday. India won by 59 runs via the D/L method.
“We knew that anything over 270 would be challenging. It feels good to get a hundred when the team wanted me to get one,” Kohli said after the win which gave the tourists a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“Shikhar and Rohit didn’t get a big one. One of the top three has always got the big one. A senior man had to step up and today was my opportunity to step up. It was important to string in a lot of dot balls,” he added.
Kohli had a relatively quiet World Cup and this was his first century since March. En route, he surpassed former captain Sourav Ganguly to become India’s second highest run-getter in ODIs.
The India skipper also shattered a 26-year-old record when he surpassed Pakistan’s Javed Miandad for most runs by any batsman in ODIs against the West Indies.
Kohli said it was a good toss to win as the wicket became difficult in the second innings.
“Good outing with the bat. Exactly why we wanted to bat first. If you saw the later half of the West Indies innings, it was difficult to bat on. I think the rain in between helped them else it would have been tough to bat in the middle,” he said.
“The batting became a little easy thanks to the rain when (Shimron) Hetymer and (Nicholas) Pooran were batting together.
“It was tough gripping the ball when it went into the outfield. It was about staying in there and hoping one wicket will put pressure on them and luckily we got the wickets.”
Kohli said the number of left-handers in the West Indies team prompted him to play Kuldeep Yadav in place of Yuzvendra Chahal.
“The number of left-handers work in favour of Kuldeep and that’s why we went in with him rather than Chahal. He is more lethal against the left-handers because of his variations and the lines that he bowls to them,” he said.
“Kedar (Jadhav) was precise as well. With the number of left-handers, you want to go with a chinaman bowler rather than a leggie. With Jadeja playing, it helps our balance.”
The skipper lauded Shreyas Iyer, who made a crucial 71 on Sunday.
“He (Iyer) is a very confident guy and has the right attitude. Really got the tempo going and took the pressure off me. After I got out, he got the extra runs as well,” Kohli said.
West Indies captain Jason Holder said losing the last six wickets for just 62 runs cost his side the match.
West Indies were comfortably placed at 148 for four after the 27th over before they lost wickets in quick succession to be bundled out for 210 in the 42nd over.
“Extremely disappointing. We bowled really well and the game was in our hands. We lost crucial wickets at the back end to lose the game.
“We need to take responsibility. We need to take the game deep. The pitch was pretty good and the bowlers despite the humid conditions did well. The batters have to take the responsibility. They have been letting us down far too often,” Holder said.
Show more grit and stomach for a fight says West Indies coach
West Indies coach Floyd Reifer said the middle-order batsmen need to show more grit and fighting spirit in order to win matches after they suffered a 59-run loss.
India skipper Virat Kohli (120) and Shreyas Iyer (71) put up a 125-run stand to power India to a competitive 279 for 7 in 50 overs.
In reply, West Indies were on course at 148 for four before they lost their last six wickets for 62 runs to be bundled out for 210 in 42 overs.
“We got to continue to learn from this experience. Guys in the middle order, we got to show more fight, a bit more grit. More determination to build those longer partnership,” Reifer said at the post match conference.
Opener Evin Lewis (65) and Nicholas Pooran (42) had kept West Indies in the hunt but the loss of wickets at regular interval turned the match in India’s favour.
“Again we were in front today and then we found a way to give away our wickets, so it’s just a matter of us now to learn from our mistakes, continue to learn from our mistakes and try to dig deeper,” he said.
The 47-year-old, however, lauded the efforts of his bowlers who restricted India to 279 for 7.
“I thought the bowlers bowled very well to restrict India to 279, I thought it was a very good effort from the bowlers. Great bowling line and length, variation of pace. Carlos Brathwaite really bowled well, Chase had a good spell, all the other bowlers, Cottrell again, a champion.”
Asked about the final ODI, which is scheduled to take place here on Wednesday, Reifer said the team, which is in the rebuilding process, can still pull off a win.
“It’s not an uphill task (to win), like I said in the past interviews, we are rebuilding, we are building our side again.
“And when you are building a side, you get speed bumps along the way. It’s how you bounce back from them. Our meeting will be how we assess today and things we need to do better going the next game,” he added.
Reifer also congratulated Chris Gayle for becoming the highest run-scorer for West Indies surpassing batting legend Brain Lara during his 300th ODI.
“300 game for a West Indian, obviously he is the first to have done it. It is a great achievement I feel honoured to be here working with him. I have played with and against him and now I am coaching so it was great to see his 300th game,” he said.