India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni revealed on Saturday that Virat Kohli’s agreement to drop down the order paid the team rich dividends and the strategy would be followed in the remainder of the One-Day series.
Kohli (62), who registered his 31st ODI fifty to return to form, stitched a crucial 105-run fourth-wicket partnership with Suresh Raina (62) to help India put up a respectable 263 for seven in 50 overs. The hosts eventually levelled the five-match series 1-1 by winning the match by 48 runs.
"Kohli is very experienced and he knows what the team wants. We were able to convince him to bat down the order and he understood that it's good for the team and himself. We have to look at everything," said Dhoni in the post-match press conference at Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday.
"He is a kind of player who scores at a brisk pace. If someone is doing well at No.3 and Virat is comfortable at No.4 then why not. Let's go with it. But it was the first time, so we will see," he added.
Ambati Rayudu, who took Kohli's place at No.3, made a valuable 32 after India lost their openers early on a slow-paced Kotla wicket. Dhoni, who also contributed with an unbeaten 51, was happy with the batting order.
"I believe it's good for the team to have your most experienced players bat at No.5, 6 and 7. It helps Virat to change his slot and have the cushion of runs behind him. It was a win-win situation as Rayudu (Ambati) also got more balls to settle down. It also disrupts the strategy of the opposition team. So everything fell into place," said Dhoni.
The batsmen did their job but the bowlers were not far behind. Chasing 264 for a win, West Indies were cruising at 170 for two when Man of the Match Mohammad Shami, who registered his career-best figures of 4-36, got the dangerous Dwayne Smith (97) back in the pavilion.
Soon leg-spinner Amit Mishra (2-40) and Ravindra Jadeja (3-44) also swung into action.
Dhoni was all praise for the bowling effort.
"It was a double-bounce wicket. I thought we maybe 20 runs short but the bowlers bowled really well. It's important to put pressure on the batsmen and not allow then to take singles and twos. Shami bowled an excellent spell. Mishra was in his elements and whenever he flights the ball, he gets that extra bit of purchase...and then Jadeja (Ravindra) played his part," said Dhoni.