CHENNAI: West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer has sent out a clear statement of intent to IPL franchises with a swashbuckling century against India in the opening ODI here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. The aggressive Hetmyer (139 off 106 balls) in the company of a resolute Shai Hope (102 not out off 151 balls) powered West Indies to a comprehensive eight-wicket win on Sunday and helped the visitors make a head start in the three-match series.
Hetmyer who was released from the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad should now attract heavy bidding when the IPL-2020 auction takes place in Kolkata on Thursday. Chasing a tricky target of 288 on a slow surface, Hetmyer and opener Hope put on a 218-run stand for the second wicket. While Hetmyer played the attacking role, Hope anchored the chase brilliantly by rotating the strike. After a cautious start to negate the threat posed by pacers Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami, Windies accelerated in a phased manner. The way Hetmyer targetted Ravindra Jadeja was akin to a tiger picking its prey.
The period between overs 22 and 26 was the turning point in which Windies took the commanding position by notching up 52 runs. Hetmyer creamed Jadeja for 16 runs including back-to-back sixes in the 22nd over. The chase turned out to be a breeze for the Windies from that point.
Pant takes centre stage
Midway through India’s innings, the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium witnessed an unusual scene. While fans have been heckling Rishabh Pant with chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ in other parts of the country, the Sunday crowd at the superstar’s spiritual home — Chepauk — chose to egg on the young wicket-keeper batsman.
Chants of ‘Rishabh Pant, Rishabh Pant’ reverberated the stadium as Dhoni’s potential successor slammed his maiden ODI half-century to power India to 287 for eight in 50 overs.
Pant who has been under enormous pressure walked in at a critical juncture when India were in a spot of bother at 80 for three inside 20 overs. Having seen the back of Virat Kohli (4) and Rohit Sharma (36), West Indies were threatening to stomp over the middle-order which has been considered India’s weakest link. The 114-run stand between Pant and Shreyas Iyer (70 off 88 balls) on a slow surface was anything to go by India have finally found a solution to their middle-order muddle.
Pant started off slowly, scoring just six off his first 16 balls, and took time to get accustomed to the conditions. As he grew in with confidence, runs started flowing off his willow and quickly made up for the slow start. A slog-sweep into the stands and a flat pull towards the midwicket boundary after going down on knees were some of the highlights from Pant’s innings. Kedar Jadhav’s 35-ball 40 ensured India posted a competitive total.
Earlier, KL Rahul and Kohli were undone by the pace, rather lack of it, Rohit pulled a short ball straight to the midwicket fielder. Sheldon Cottrell who removed Rahul and Kohli in the same over bowled a sensation opening spell 5-3-12-2. Skipper Kieron Pollard deserves some credit for his smart fielding change that resulted in the prized scalp of Kohli. As Pollard moved Jason Holder from slip to short mid-off, Kohli tried to run it down the third man only to get an inside edge onto the stumps. Shreyas Iyer and Rohit put on 55 runs for the third wicket to repair the damage before Pant joined the former in the middle.
India: R. Sharma c Pollard b Joseph 36, KL Rahul c Hetmyer b Cottrell 6, V. Kohli b Cottrell 4, S. Iyer Pollard b Joseph 70, R. Pant c Hetmyer b Pollard 71, K. Jadhav c Pollard b Paul 40, R. Jadeja run out (Chase) 21, S. Dube c Holder b Paul 9, D. Chahar (not out) 6, M. Shami (not out) 0. Extras (b-5, lb-5, nb-3, w-11) 24. Total (for eight wickets in 50 overs) 287.
FoW: 1-21 (Rahul), 2-25 (V. Kohli), 3-80 (Sharma), 4-194 (Iyer), 5-210 (Pant), 6-269 (Jadhav), 7-269 (Jadeja), 8-282 (Dube),
Bowling: Cottrell 10-3-46-2, Holder 8-0-45-0, Walsh Jr 5-0-31-0, Paul 7-0-40-2, Joseph 9-1-45-2, Chase 7-0-42-0, Pollard 4-0-28-1.
West Indies: S. Hope (not out) 102, S. Ambris lbw b Chahar 9, S. Hetmyer c Iyer b Shami 139, N. Pooran (not out) 29. Extras (lb-4, nb-1, w-7) 12. Total (for two wickets in 47.5 overs) 291.
FoW: 1-11, 2-229.
Bowling: Chahar 10-1-48-1, Shami 9-1-57-1, Yadav 10-0-45-0, Dube 7.5-0-68-0, Jadhav 1-0-11-0, Jadeja 10-0-58-0.