Sports Desk: Virat Kohli upstaged a rampant Chris Gayle as India defeated the West Indies by six wickets in the rain-affected third and final ODI in Trinidad.
Set a revised target of 255 after Gayle blazed 72 in the home side’s 7-240 off 35 overs, Kohli was at his most imperious in compiling an unbeaten 114 - his second consecutive hundred - to pilot his team to 4-256 with 15 balls to spare.
His 43rd ODI century came off 99 balls and featured 14 fours as India won the series 2-0.
Kohli's masterminding of another successful pursuit will leave Jason Holder and his West Indies team wary of what the Indian captain will have to offer with the bat in the upcoming two Tests in Antigua and Jamaica.
As commanding as his innings was, though, the hosts were left to rue a straightforward opportunity missed by wicketkeeper Shai Hope off allrounder Keemo Paul when the champion batsman was just on just 11.
He received excellent support, as in the previous match, from Shreyas Iyer with an innings of 65 off 41 balls in a 120-run third-wicket partnership that tilted the match decisively India's way following a brief wobble when left-arm spinner Fabian Allen had dismissed both Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant in the same over.
Allen had also effected the run out of Rohit Sharma for the first wicket of the innings but was unable to complete his seven-over allotment due to an injury sustained attempting to save a boundary.
While Kohli illuminated the gathering gloom in at the end of the match, it was Gayle who stole the show at the start.
Gayle savaged the Indian bowlers after Holder chose to bat first, occupying only 41 balls with five sixes and eight fours distinguishing his typically bludgeoning innings.
Opening partner Evin Lewis made a bold attempt to match arguably the most destructive power-hitter in the international game, his innings of 43 coming off 29 deliveries and featuring three sixes and five fours.
Their rampage had taken the West Indies to 114 after ten overs, the most productive ten-over start to an ODI since the 2015 World Cup.
However, Lewis departed in the next over, bowled by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, while Gayle was well caught by Kohli at mid-off striking out at Khaleel Ahmed.
As Gayle left the field, the manner of the Indian players' appreciation of the 39-year-old's innings, and his acknowledgement of the applause as he departed the field, left the distinct impression that he had played his final ODI innings.
But having backflipped earlier this year on his plan to retire after the World Cup, Gayle said after play that he "didn’t announce any retirement" and was still available "until further notice".
Ahmed picked up two more wickets to be the most successful Indian bowler, although he was also the most expensive, conceding 68 runs off seven overs.
Mohammed Shami picked up two wickets but the spinners - Chahal, Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja - were the most economical for India during the frenetic innings.
risingbd/Aug 15, 2019/Mukul