India vs West Indies: Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope deliver big win
To the union of fire and phlegm that Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope produced here on Sunday, India had no answer. There will be times when Hope’s trundling like the local trains at one end of the MA Chidambaram Stadium will be questioned but the first One-day International against India wouldn’t be among them. That is because while chasing 288 on a track difficult for batting, Hetmyer ensured West Indies were ahead of India after every 10-over mark. His and Hope’s was a joint venture of left and right, their approach to batting as different as left is from right.
When Hetmeyer got to his fifth ODI hundred, with a push to long-on off Kuleep Yadav, Hope was on 57. It had taken Hope 102 balls to get there; Hetmyer needed 17 less to reach his century. By the time Hetmyer fell on 139, his highest ODI score, caught by Shreyas Iyer in the deep off Mohammed Shami in the 39th over, he and Hope had added 218 runs for the second wicket in 208 balls. West Indies then needed 59 runs in 74 balls to lead this three-match series 1-0. That they duly did in 47.5 overs with Nicholas Pooran hitting successive fours off debutant Shivam Dube.
In the over prior to his dismissal, Hetmyer hit Dube for a six and a four, and two balls before being dismissed dispatched Shami past extra cover. On way to his second ODI ton against India and the first in 16 innings since an unbeaten 104 against England at Bridgetown in February, Hetmyer started with two edges that fetched fours. After that till Iyer dropped a dolly at long-on off Deepak Chahar, when Hetmyer was on 106, there was nary a false shot.
Hetmyer celebrated his survival with two successive sixes off Ravindra Jadeja, for the second time in the evening, the shots epitomising excellent backfoot play, which is how he dealt with the spinners. True, he struggled to read Yadav’s googly but in a game where no spinner got a wicket, it was off the chinaman bowler that Hetmyer hit a six over long-on going down on his knee.
Then there was the swing off Shami over midwicket in the 26th over after Rishabh Pant conceded an overthrow to get Hetmeyer on strike. India had got Shami to try and break the second-wicket partnership and the over had begun with Hope gloving for four one which came back sharply. It ended with Shami going for 13.
Coming to bat after Deepak Chahar had Sunil Ambris comfortably plumb, Hetmeyer, with 11 boundaries and seven sixes, provided the perfect foil for Hope’s obduracy. Like Iyer and Pant, who added 114 in 113 balls for the fourth wicket to rebuild India’s innings after Sheldon Cottrell dismissed KL Rahul and Virat Kohli in one over, Hope respected the conditions. That Hope got to his century—his second in as many ODIs and eighth overall—with a six and a four off Chahar showed he is no strokeless wonder. It was just that he had bedded down to ensure a difficult chase never went off rails.
Earlier, Rishabh Pant showed the temperament needed to succeed in international white ball cricket by scoring his first half-century in One-day Internationals. Sunday’s innings of 71 couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, in terms of Pant’s career and in the context of where India were headed after Sheldon Cottrell had scalped two wickets—including that of Virat Kohli—in the innings’ seventh over.
By the 19th over, Rohit Sharma too had gone, all Indian wickets falling to lack of pace from West Indies fast bowlers. Alzarri Joseph had just finished a wicket maiden, and for all the surprise Kohli had shown at the toss, Kieron Pollard’s decision to field first looked right.
Pant and Shreyas Iyer knuckled down on a surface that looked sticky from the first ball which Sharma had shaped to pull Jason Holder and ended up playing early. At 80/3 and run machines Sharma and Kohli gone, the innings needed rebuilding in the face of disciplined bowling and some smart field placements from Pollard, which meant India had to graft for runs.
India got to 287/8 largely due to Pant and Iyer. His talent never in doubt, Pant showed the temperament needed to succeed in international white-ball cricket by scoring his first ODI half-century. His 69-ball 71 (7x4, 1x6) couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, both in terms of Pant’s career and in the context of where India were headed after the top order had fallen cheaply. For all the surprise Kohli had shown at the toss, Kieron Pollard’s decision to field first proved right.
Batting at No. 4, Iyer (70 - 88b, 5x4, 1x6) ran well between wickets and eschewed risks to get to his third successive half-century. He didn’t hit a ball in the air till his first six, off Chase, and it came in the 76th ball he faced.
It was again the lack of pace that fetched West Indies Iyer’s wicket. By then, having reined in his impetuosity, Pant had changed gears and had hit the innings’ first six, in the 28th over, slog-sweeping Chase. There was the odd streaky shot and he was dropped on 56 by Cottrell at extra-cover, off Pollard. But till Pant fell to Pollard’s bait of rolling his fingers and bowling outside off-stump, he showed the discipline the situation demanded.
By cutting down on pace, discipline was what Cottrell too produced in spades. He got Rahul with one that stopped on the batsman and had Kohli playing on while attempting a steer because the slip had been removed. It took 16 balls for India to take their first run off the 30-year-old Jamaican whose first spell read 5-3-13-2.
After Iyer and Pant fell within 16 runs of each other, Jadhav (40 - 35b, 3x4, 1x6) and Jadeja had a 59-run stand in 47 balls. There may have been problems with the fifth bowler but the middle-order had done well. And batting first, India had posted a fighting score. It came to a naught because of Hetmyer and Hope.