Mumbai : India captain Virat Kohli again backed Ambati Rayudu for the critical number four slot after the “intelligent” batsman reposed his skipper’s faith with a less-than-a-run-a-ball century in the fourth ODI against the West Indies, in Mumbai.
India recorded one of their biggest victories in the 50-over cricket with a 224-demolition of the visitors, following blazing hundreds by Rayudu and Rohit Sharma.
“Rayudu has taken his chance with both hands. We need to back him till the 2019 World Cup. He reads the game well, so we are happy that someone intelligent is batting at number four,” declared Kohli, at the post-match presentation ceremony.
India were really ruthless, barely two days after the shocking defeat in Pune, as they took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
“Yes, (we) ticked all the boxes. We were clinical in all departments. We got into rhythm. We are known to bounce back and it was another example. Khaleel (Ahmed) was good with pitching it in the right areas, making the ball talk, and swinging it both ways,” the skipper added.
Defending 377, young pacer Khaleel (3/13) impressed upfront before chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (3/42)) ran through the West Indies’ tail to bowl them out for 153 in 36.2 overs.
This was Rohit’s 21st ODI century and seventh 150-plus score, having notched one in the series opener.
“Very clinical, right from the start! After losing two wickets, I had mentioned this earlier about having a big partnership and that was a game-changing partnership,” said Rohit, who was declared man-of-the-match.
“Once you are set, you got to make it count and that is what me and Rayudu did in the middle. We carried for as long as we did.
“Heartening to see the way we bowled as bowling unit. It was a long time coming, this kind of performance from the bowlers.”
The Mumbaikar also held three catches in what was an all-round display by him and the team.
“I’ve been doing some slip-catching for a while. I can hear Virat laugh there!
“Especially if you’re fielding in the slips for Kuldeep, it isn’t easy to read his hands. When you play him in the nets, it is easy to understand when he is going to bowl that googly and I got to be ready for it,” Rohit said.
The West Indies’ chase never really got going as they lost half their side inside the 50-run mark, with Khaleel doing the bulk of the damage.
“We didn’t play well enough. We allowed them to score too many runs. We never got going with the bat and the application definitely was not there. Lost wickets up front and didn’t get enough momentum,” West Indies captain Jason Holder said.
The Indians dished out an impressive effort on the field, inflicting two run-outs, besides Rohit’s three fine catches in the slips.
Holder said, “Run-outs are something that you don’t want in One-day or in any limited-overs cricket. Two of our better players as well and it really set us back upfront. It was a lot to do to rebuild to get up to 370-odd.
“Obviously I have been hearing that (batting up the order) for a long while. The structure of the team probably needs to be looked at and, obviously, I want to get up the order as well. Probably, next game you could see that.”