MUMBAI: Rohit Sharma hailed his “game-changer” partnership with fellow centurion Ambati Rayudu to set up India’s 224-run win over West Indies in Monday’s fourth one-day international.
Sharma, who smashed 162, and Rayudu, who made 100, put on 211 runs for the third wicket to power the hosts to 377-5 after electing to bat first at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium.
India then bowled out the tourists for 153 in 36.2 overs to lead the five-match series 2-1. Paceman Khaleel Ahmed and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav took three wickets each.
Skipper Jason Holder hit an unbeaten 54 for West Indies after they were reduced to 101-8 and staring at the prospect of suffering their biggest ever ODI loss. They lost to South Africa by 257 runs in 2015.
It was India’s third-biggest victory margin after their 257-run triumph over Bermuda in 2007 followed by the 256-run mauling of Hong Kong the next year.
The day belonged to Sharma who took apart the West Indies bowling, hitting 20 fours and 4 sixes during his 137-ball stay at the crease.
“Very clinical performance from us after losing two early wickets,” said Sharma, who also took three sharp catches while fielding at slip, after receiving the man of the match award.
“A big partnership was the game-changer, and in all four games we’ve had big partnerships that have allowed us to stay in the game and post big totals.”
Sharma — the only batsman to hit three ODI double centuries — took control after the hosts lost their in-form captain Virat Kohli for 16.
Sharma put on 71 runs with opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, who was the first to go off pace bowler Keemo Paul for 38.
Kohli, who came into the game at the back of three successive centuries, was caught behind off paceman Kemar Roach. He has accumulated 420 runs in his four innings of the series so far.
While Kohli hit 140 in India’s opening win, his next two tons had contrasting results with the second match ending in a tie and West Indies winning the third game.
– ‘Too many runs’ –
Sharma, who made an unbeaten 152 in India’s opening win, got to his 21st century in just 98 deliveries and went on to register his seventh 150 plus score in 192 ODIs.
Off-spinner Ashley Nurse finally got Sharma’s wicket as the batsman sliced the ball to short third-man and Chandrapaul Hemraj took an excellent catch.
Rayudu kept up the pace at one end to get to his third ODI century but was run out soon after reaching the three-figure mark.
In reply, West Indies lost three of their top batsmen for just 20 runs, including two run outs that spelt disaster for the tourists’ chase.
The 20-year-old Ahmed then rattled the opposition middle-order with his left-arm pace bowling as he returned career-best figures of 3-13 from his five overs in just his 5th ODI.
Yadav then spun into action to wipe off the West Indies tail with three lower-order strikes.
“We didn’t play well enough today. We allowed them to score too many runs. We never got going with the bat and the application definitely was not there,” said Holder.
“The structure of the team probably needs to be looked at and obviously I want to get up the order as well,” said Holder, who bats at number seven.
The fifth and final ODI is on Thursday in Thiruvananthapuram.