The first ODI between India and the West Indies will be remembered for Rohit Sharma’s responsible innings. But the Cuttack tie will be as memorable for the all-round performance of India's pace trio Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and R Vinay Kumar.
Once skipper Virender Sehwag chose to field first, it was imperative for all three bowlers, two of whom had already booked berths for the Australia Test tour starting at the end of this month, to click with the white ball.
And they got breakthroughs at regular intervals and also prevented the Windies batsmen from quickly getting off the blocks. Their combined analysis of 23-1-107-5 ensured the hosts were restricted to 211 for nine.
Yadav was the pick of the bowlers. He consistently clocked around 140kph and bowled in the corridors of uncertainty. Vinay, who got an opportunity after the injured Praveen Kumar failed to join the squad in Cuttack, bowled well within himself and generated bounce consistently early on, something that’s become his trademark.
If his opening spell wasn’t enough to make a strong case for replacing Praveen in the Test squad Down Under, his sensible knock lower down the order put him ahead of the contenders, at least for the time being.
When Vinay came in to bat with India 159/7 , they were still 53 runs adrift of the target. Though Rohit was going strong at the other end, he needed someone who could hold one end up. And Vinay did that to leave India on the brink of victory.
“When you lose five quick wickets, it’s difficult to come back. Then Rohit and (Ravindra) Jadeja’s partnership almost took us there. After that Vinay and Rohit had a good partnership. It’s not easy when you lose five-six wickets quickly. The way they batted was great to see,” said Sehwag.
When Vinay perished, India still required 11 runs with Aaron and Yadav in the middle. The duo hung on to see India across the line with two crucial boundaries off Darren Sammy in the penultimate over. Eventually, the 30 runs they put together were as vital as their 23 overs with the ball.