At the toss, it seemed like the West Indies had got it wrong. The Chennai wicket is known to aid spinners and it slows down as the game goes on — making stroke play difficult as the game goes on. Despite that WI skipper Kieron Pollard chose to bowl first in the first ODI.

It could be looked at as the visitors backing themselves or as a quiet affirmation that India’s bench strength in the bowling department in limited-overs matches is anywhere close to what it has for Test matches.

After Shreyas Iyer (70) and Rishabh Pant (71) had rescued India from a tricky position with responsible knocks, the hosts eventually reached 287/8 at the end of their fifty overs.

Iyer possesses a smooth style of batting. He never looks like he is trying to hit the ball hard, in stark comparison to Pant, who usually looks like he is trying to throw the kitchen sink at every ball. It was a vital partnership for India and perhaps an indication of where the two batsmen should also be batting in the line-up permanently. Iyer, at four and Pant, at five.

Pant, in particular, seemed very determined to avoid doing anything silly at the start of his innings. He didn’t try hitting the first ball he faced for six nor did he try any random slog. Instead, he tried the straight bat approach and it worked.

If anything a knock like this could give him the keys to unlocking his true potential in the shorter formats where he has had a horrid run ever since he made his debut. Despite a slow start, he still ended his innings striking at faster than a run-a-ball. Pant, of all people, should know he can always catch up.

“I’ve realised after playing a fair bit at the international level that unlike at amateur levels of cricket, there isn’t anything like a natural game,” said the 21-year-old Pant after the game. “At the international level, you have to play according to the situation or what the team demands.”

Hopefully, he’ll take those words to heart and not just at face value.

Not on the ball

For Kohli, the partnership was a sign of one problem starting to move towards a solution but at the same time, perhaps another one is starting to take root.

With Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya out injured and Yuzvendra Chahal not playing, India went into the match with an attack that can be best described as second string.

In Test matches, injuries haven’t really mattered as India’s second rung has turned in some world-class performances. But in ODIs and T20s, they seem to be lacking in some aspects.

Most troublesome among the bowling attack’s issues was the lack of wicket-taking options. India got a wicket early but once Shai Hope (102 off 151 balls) and Shimron Hetmyer (139 off 106 balls) decided that they were going to get stuck in, the bowlers were unable to pressure them into making a mistake.

Deepak Chahar was consistent and it is increasingly clear that Kohli now places great trust in him. But there were some harsh lessons to be learned by Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami who were all not accurate or consistent enough with their lines and lengths.

“We thought six bowling options would be enough. I don’t think pitch changed drastically, they batted brilliantly. The spinners were getting help but they put pressure on our spinners brilliantly. Hetmyer’s innings was outstanding,” said Kohli after the game.

Hetmyer attacked with great relish and when he does get going, he deposits the ball in the stands with startling ease. He plays the spinners well, using the depth of the crease to create doubts in the bowler’s mind, and that meant that India were unable to put any pressure on the West Indies during the middle overs.

With Hetmyer going great guns, Hope settled into playing the role of the second fiddle. He took his singles and rotated the strike without ever looking like he would get carried away.

In the early days of left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s career, he would look forward to bowling to a big-hitter because that is when his variations would truly come into play. But now he seems timid by comparison.

After getting hit for a six off the first ball of the 15th over by Hetmyer, Yadav immediately chose to go flat. Earlier, he would have elected to go for the wicket but now he chooses to go for the run-saving options. It is an approach that is self-defeating given that he rose to prominence on the basis of his wicket-taking abilities.

Kohli will hope that his first-string bowlers get back to full fitness quickly but at the same time, he will also hope that second-string use this opportunity to learn; to learn and to get better because one never knows when an injury will strike again.