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Cricket news - Middle order powers India to 287

Pant and Iyer put on a century stand for the fourth-wicket partnership.

Pant and Iyer put on a century stand for the fourth-wicket partnership.

A strong performance from the middle order - led by Shreyas Iyer's fifth ODI half-century and Rishabh Pant's maiden fifty-plus score - powered India to a total of 287 for 8 in the opening one-dayer against West Indies in Chennai on Sunday (December 15). A 114-run fourth-wicket stand gave India the platform following early wickets. Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja then came up with useful runs in the death to help India finish with a good total.

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, the men in form in the T20Is, looked to continue in the same vein as they built a steady platform, albeit with a slightly watchful approach. But India found themselves in trouble early in their innings as Sheldon Cottrell used the change of pace to good effect to send back Rahul and Virat Kohli in the seventh over. While Rahul got a leading edge to mid-wicket, Kohli played on trying to guide one to the third-man region. It was an excellent first spell from the 30-year-old left-arm pacer, whose five overs included three maidens and only 12 runs as India could manage only 33 in the first 10.

While the slower deliveries worked to the advantage of West Indies, there was also some sharp movement and bounce for Jason Holder, who troubled Rohit a few times. But whenever it was full Rohit was quick to take advantage of it, as did Shreyas Iyer, with the two batsmen also scoring fours off Hayden Walsh behind square on the off side as they started rebuilding the platform with a brisk half-century stand. Walsh continued to leak boundaries, while the other bowlers also didn't pose too many problems until Alzarri Joseph bowled out short of a length that took off and found Rohit late on the pull to leave India three down.

What followed was another phase of rebuilding, with Pant managing to tone down his aggression in what was a measured innings as he assisted Iyer in raising a half-century stand off 66 deliveries. Apart from a slog-sweep for a six off Roston Chase, Pant was frugal with his approach as he concentrated on strike rotation and putting away the poor deliveries and free-hits. Iyer too was happy milking the singles, with both batsmen crossing the half-century mark in an important partnership on a trying, double-natured pitch.

Iyer's first aggressive shot came after his fifty when he sent a Chase delivery over the midwicket boundary and the offspinner came for some stick from Pant, who had picked up pace without attempting anything fancy, hitting his boundaries mostly straight, as the fourth wicket pair extended the partnership past 100. Pant even had a lucky break when he hit a full delivery from Kieron Pollard straight to cover where Cottrell put down the catch.

But both half-centurions fell in quick succession, both versions of the flick shot, leaving it to India's all-round options to finish the job. Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja took over and did a fine job, with the former playing the role of an aggressor in a breezy fifty-run partnership. Jadhav struck three fours and a six while Jadeja hit two boundaries before both fell in off successive deliveries in the 48th over, the former run out in a controversial manner after on-field umpire Shaun George opted for the third umpire's assistance quite late. Umpire George made another error when he failed to call a waist-high no-ball in the final over, with the third umpire intervening again. India, meanwhile, managed 18 in the last two overs to finish on a good note.

Brief scores: India 287/8 in 50 overs (Rishabh Pant 71, Shreyas Iyer 70, Kedar Jadhav 40; Sheldon Cottrell 2-46) vs West Indies.

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