Virat Kohli sparkles when it comes to run chases. And captaincy has a special effect on him. Sunday was no different after Kohli took over as India’s limited-overs captain from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Virat Kohli’s masterly 122 off 105 balls and local-boy Kedar Jadhav’s 76-ball 120 (12x4s, 4x6s), backed by the vociferous crowd, helped India pull off a thrilling three-wicket victory after being in serious trouble. India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. (SCORECARD)
In his first Test as stand-in captain on the 2014 tour to Australia, Kohli smashed 115 and 141 at Adelaide. When he officially took over as Test captain in Sydney, he slammed 147. And he made sure India’s didn’t falter in his first match after taking over as ODI skipper.
England piled up 350 for seven after Virat Kohli asked them to bat first. India finished on 356 for seven in 48.1 overs, achieving the second highest run chase by India in ODIs.
Kohli’s record intact
The win kept Virat Kohli’s record of not losing a single match on home soil intact. What made the chase an epic affair was Kohli and Jadhav both suffered cramp, but ensured they brought India within touching distance of what seemed an unlikley win.
The visitors posted 350/7, their highest ever ODI total in India in the first game of the three-match series at the MCA Stadium.
However, at 63 for four with Yuvraj Singh (15) and MS Dhoni (6) both out, hopes of chasing a mammoth total was fading.
Kohli’s rousing start
But till Virat Kohli was in the middle, he kept the hope alive. Despite the loss of early wickets, Kohli did not alter his approach. Not the one to regularly go for sixes, Kohli’s first scoring shot was a six off paceman David Willey over long on.
With a flat six, Kohli brought up his 17th century in ODI chases, equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record. Overall it was his 27th. But there was no celebration on reaching the landmark.
He hit five sixes, but the last one off Chris Woakes was one to admire. The England pacer gave no room to free his arms, but Kohli, with his sheer power, managed sent the ball sailing into the stands over deep midwicket.
Virat Kohli wasn’t the only one taking the responsibility; Jadhav took greater risk to score at a fast pace.
From overs 13 to 33, Kohli and Jadhav added 157 runs. Jadhav did not hold back playing his strokes as he raced to a 29-ball half-century. His century came off just 64 balls.
Like Kohli, Jadhav too toyed with the England bowlers, smashing them all over the park. The biggest worry for India was that Kohli and Jadhav both struggled with cramp. Kohli’s gem of an innings came to an end after a slower ball from Ben Stokes took the leading edge, ending the 200-run stand for the fifth wicket.
If Jadhav struggled to run, he put his hands to good use with focus more on playing the big shots.
When Jadhav arrived, India needed 287 runs to win in 38 overs. By the time Jadhav holed out to Stokes playing a pull shot, India needed just 60 runs in as many balls.
Hardik Pandya (40 no, 37 balls) and R Ashwin (15 no) kept their cool in the end to see the team through with 11 balls to spare.
England’s dream start
Jason Roy provided a dream start for England with a quickfire 61-ball 73. The visitors consistently scored over six runs per over as they scored 90/1 in the first 15 overs.
After a flying start, all that the England batsmen had to do was consolidate which Joe Root did with his patient 95-ball 78. Root’s innings helped India slow down England’s momentum for a while. But Stokes’ power-packed batting shifted the balance as the visitors added 105 runs in the last eight overs.
There was a talk England might face the spin music, but their batsmen were hardly troubled by Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a flat deck. With no Indian pacer able to control the leaking of runs, Kohli wasted no time in introducing spin as early as the 10th over.
While the fast bowlers leaked runs (77/1 in 12 overs), the spinners applied the brake. For 30 balls, Roy and Root were not able to score a boundary, which brought down their scoring rate to just under six for the first time.
Ravindra Jadeja (1/50 in 10 overs) was the most economical among the seven bowlers used by Kohli. Ashwin, who bowled well initially (20/0 in four overs), had a rare off day as he leaked 63 runs in his eight overs without any wicket.