West Indies failed to defend a victory target of 212, as Man-of-the-Match Virat Kohli hit the top score of 86 and Rohit Sharma made 72 to take India over the threshold with 88 balls remaining in the first One-day International at a humid, packed Nehru Stadium on Thursday here.
Earlier, Darren Bravo, the captain’s younger brother, had gathered a workmanlike 59 and opener Johnson Charles made 42, as West Indies were dismissed for 211 in 48.5 overs, after they chose to bat.
The younger Bravo and Marlon Samuels were victims of deliveries that squatted, but Bravo failed to lay the blame for his side’s loss on the pitch.
“We can’t blame the pitch,” said Bravo. “Both teams played on it. Nothing changed. Unfortunately we end up on the side [with] the luck not going our way. India are playing good cricket at the moment and the luck and momentum is on their side.
“Two of our better players got starts and were unable to carry on because of deliveries that kept very low. In the Indian innings some balls kept low as well, but they were not [on target].”
Spinners Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin shared eight wickets between them to put the skids on the West Indies batting.
“The Indian bowlers executed their game plan well,” said Bravo. “They understood the straighter they bowled, the harder it was for us to score.
“We did not maintain our discipline long enough, and so we ended up on the losing side. A total of 210 on that pitch with a small outfield was never going to be enough, even if a few deliveries kept low, we still needed to do a lot better.
He added: “We fell 40 runs short. We had a good start even after we lost Chris Gayle in the first over, which was a big blow for us. Samuels and Johnson Charles put up a good partnership, so we were hitting our targets, but we kept losing wickets. As a batting group, we had set a target of between 280 and 285, but could manage only 211, and we were on course.”
During the first 15 overs and the second 15 overs of our innings, we were on target to reach our proposed total, but we kept losing wickets at crucial times and it is always difficult to ask tail-enders to bat during the last seven or eight overs in an ODI.”
On the work of the bowlers, Bravo said: “Starting with the two fast bowlers, Ravi Rampaul and Jason Holder, they gave everything even in their second spells. Sunil Narine played his part, and the fielding was good at times which is also very important, so as a captain, I am pleased with the effort we gave in the field, but obviously we have some work to do with the batting.”
On Kohli and Sharma putting on 133 for the second wicket, Bravo said: “At the moment, the two of them are in good form, good touch. When you look at the Australian series, the Tests and even this match, they are at the top of their game. They played very well and everything is going in their way. [It is] always difficult to bowl to batsmen in such form with that quality. They are two world-class batsmen.
“They are playing at home and know the conditions better than us and took the game away from us. Difference between both teams is that when their top three or four batsmen get starts they carry on and put their team in a winning position. That is something we have to learn. Chasing 211, once two of your top four batsmen get 50s, the game is over.”