Rahul Sharma adds spin to Sehwag show

Rahul Sharma bowls during the fourth one-day international cricket match against West Indies at The Holkar Stadium in Indore. AFP Photo

Andre Russell, the burly all-rounder who had played a cameo to set up West Indies' first victory on the tour three nights ago, slogged debutant Rahul Sharma over mid-wicket and the ball cleared the giant scoreboard at the Holkar Stadium and landed in the adjoining basketball complex.

But even Russell knew the massive hit would not have any impact on the result of the match.

Not because leg-spinner Sharma had picked a wicket in each his first three overs in international cricket to leave West Indies reeling at 100 for five in the 16th over. A 206-minute slaughter by Indian skipper Virender Sehwag, who recorded the highest ever ODI score of 219, had already ensured that India would seal the series with a game to spare.

Sealing the issue
Once Sehwag's 149-ball knock had helped India amass 418 for five — their highest total in ODIs — West Indies had no option but to step up the scoring rate from the word go.

And as it happens in most such cases, the Caribbeans lost wickets in a hurry, and despite Denesh Ramdin's impressive 96, were bundled out for 265; just 46 runs more than Sehwag's individual score.

Debutant Rahul Sharma was the star of the second half of the match. Having impressed during his IPL stint earlier this year, he was elevated to the national squad, but he had to wait for more than six weeks to earn his cap.

He made the most of the opportunity by fooling the batsmen with his quick leg-breaks.


Sharma strikes
In his first over, Rahul deceived the well-set Marlon Samuels with a top-spinner that the batsman played on to the stumps. In his next over, Danza Hyatt played all over a quick one only to see the ball ricochet off his pads and onto the stumps.

And in the next over, he got the prize scalp of Kieron Pollard with another top-spinner that hit the top of the off-stump.

Sehwag, the real star of the evening, was taking a deserved rest.

He had joined Gautam Gambhir to amass 176 runs for the opening wicket until a mix-up led to the left-handed batsman's run out. But Sehwag powered on until almost till the end of the innings.


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