Mohinder Amarnath, the former India allrounder with Rishabh Pant’s return to form during the first ODI against West Indies in Chennai. The young wicketkeeper batsman, who was under fire for not performing, roared back and top-scored for India with 71. But his efforts weren’t enough to prevent West Indies from going 1-0 up in the three-match series.

Pant scored at a strike-rate of over 100 and hit seven boundaries and a six along the way. Amarnath called Pant’s return to form the biggest positive for India and expects Virat Kohli and his men to level the series in Vizag on Wednesday.

“The main positive in the batting for India was the way Rishabh Pant performed. He showed resolve to stay in when the team needed him and without modifying his game too much, was able to keep the scoreboard moving at a fair pace. Shivam Dube, too, gave him good company and that would bolster the youngster’s confidence,” Amarnath wrote in Wednesday’s Times of India.

“Going forward, I do expect the Indians to come back strongly in the second ODI. They need to back their youngsters even in the face of the odd reversal and I expect to see the same team again. The pitch there normally is a better and I do not think it would be different this time.”

If Amarnath was high on praise for Pant, he didn’t hold back praises for Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope either – the two centurions around whom West Indies’ chase was built. The pair added 218 runs for the second wicket which put West Indies on the road to glory and their assault was so impactful that it reminded Amarnath of the great Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes – the ruthless West Indies opening pair of the past against whom the former India allrounder has played plenty.

“The batting display by Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope in Chennai was of such a high standard and so intelligently executed that I don’t think there was much else that the Indian bowlers could have done to stop them,” Amarnath, who played 69 Tests and 85 ODIs for India, added.

“It was power hitting at its very best with memories of the heady days of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes springing back to mind from the recesses of memory. The West Indians have now taken the lead in this series and look pretty ominous on the batting front. They would undoubtedly be inspired by this win and will go to Visakhapatnam with greater confidence.”

Amarnath explained how India’s chances to score in excess of 300 go down remarkably when either Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli fail to get a big score and credited West Indies pacers to restrict India in the death overs, later followed by Hope and Hetmyer’s scintillating batting.

“For the Indians, there is really not much else that could have been tried on the bowling front. Part of the plan is to try out new combinations and it is hard to fault the likes of Shivam Dube. Having only played T20s at this level, the transition takes time, and with Hope and Hetmeyer in such good touch, his task became harder,” the former allrounder said.

“In the batting, once again it was proved that 300-plus scores are difficult to post when Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are not among the runs. There was also a wobble towards the end when the West Indians were able to restrict India in the slog overs. That said, Hetmyer was in such form, a bigger total might also have been chased down by the visitors.”