A Virat Kohli special was well-served to the Caribbeans at Sabina Park and eventually, it ended 3-1 for the men-in-blue. And while there wasn’t much experimentation from the visitors and the team stuck to what has worked for it, not taking the series lightly by any means, here are a few positives that emerged for India.
Kuldeep Yadav’s emergence
Playing in his debut ODI series, left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav prospered. While his debut Test against Australia was enough to generate noise about his arrival to international cricket, his ODI series debut has certainly made him a prospect to watch out for in the future.
If 8 wickets at an average of 19.75 don’t tell the whole story, the manner in which he took them certainly does. Tough to pick, Kuldeep was unplayable for the West Indies batsmen on occasions. And when they did pick his wrong uns’ and variations, he was still difficult to negotiate and score runs off. Although, Kuldeep’s real test begins now.
While he showed his captain what he brings to the side, something different, a mystery with him; now is the time when teams around the world begin analysing him, start watching his videos, again and again, zoom on his fingers, look for differentiation in his deliveries, which one is the Chinaman, which one the googly, his bowling stride, where does he normally pitch the ball.
Can he continue carrying his spells along with him wherever he goes, does he deserve first-team preference? We’ll have to see.
Ajinkya Rahane back in ODI form
“I really wanted to make it count. I wanted to enjoy my batting. Even in the Champions Trophy I was batting very well in the nets, and I really wanted to make it count here,” said Ajinkya Rahane after receiving the Man of the Series award.
Rahane’s story is strange. He hasn’t put a foot wrong but still doesn’t get to become a part of the Indian team in big games. But being patient is something to learn from him. Having sat on the bench for the whole of Champions Trophy, when the opportunity came against West Indies, he took it with both hands. Savoured it.
“Special mention to Rahane, who’s come back after a while and he was outstanding.” were Kohli’s first remarks after being called to speak at the post-match ceremony. Despite not being included in the team at times, praises have never stopped pouring for Rahane. But praises haven’t earned him a place either.
So he set out and scored 336 runs at 67.2, and made his mark. He might still not be picked when KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma get back into the team but Rahane has made one point clear: He is as hungry as others for runs, and he’s willing to fight for his spot.
Virat Kohli’s 28th ODI hundred
All’s good that ends well. Kohli’s roar after reaching his 28th ODI hundred was loud enough to reiterate that he is a master at learning from mistakes. The short ball ploy and Kohli’s ego not to let a plan against him succeed even the slightest early on in the innings had been the main weapon for West Indies bowlers throughout the series. But Kohli’s ‘complete knock’ demanded much more conviction, a clear mindset and taking control of things.
Surpassing Tendulkar’s record for most-hundreds in ODI run-chases (18), was perhaps just a milestone in the way, for Kohli the objective is indeed “about getting the team across the line”.
And while the attention was on him being portrayed as someone who is authoritative and has the final say in the dressing room, (after Anil Kumble’s resignation as coach) Kohli marshalled his troops with pride. The focus, therefore, remained on cricket.
The fit Mohammed Shami
Returning to ODI cricket after a gap of 2 years, Mohammed Shami made most of the chance given to him. He couldn’t pick a wicket in the fourth ODI but did get 4 for 48 in the fifth and final ODI.
Shami denied West Indies’ hopes of finishing on a high. He sent Jason Holder and Shai Hope back to the pavilion most importantly who were starting to look dangerous, having put on a partnership.
With him back into the ODI frame, and with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah doing well together, India’s seaming options are definitely enriched.
MS Dhoni’s contribution
While Dhoni’s name in this list of positives might certainly attract a few eyebrows, especially after his 114-ball 54 in the fourth ODI ending in a losing cause, there are genuine reasons as to why he should be included here.
Dhoni scored 154 runs in five matches; did not bat in the fifth ODI and Remained not out in the first three ODIs. Despite him having troubles with rotating strike and playing more dot balls, one thing is quite easy to observe and that is: Dhoni is scoring runs.
Apart from that, he contributed in the field as well, not just with dismissals (He took five catches and stumped three batsmen), but also with fielding placements and vital suggestions for young Kuldeep Yadav.
And as he turns 36, perhaps we must all just lower the bar of expectations we have from him, something that we have kept sky-high all these years. He is human, after all.