Sharma, Pandya give India Florida T20 sweep

SUMMARY: India 167-5 (Rohit 67, Cottrell 2-25, Thomas 2-27) beat West Indies 98-4 (Powell 54, Krunal 2-23) by 22 runs (DLS method)


India sealed the T20I series in Lauderhill to throw open the possibility of experimenting when the two sides meet in the third and final match in Guyana on Tuesday.

Unlike Saturday where both sides scrapped on a sluggish surface, this was a more even contest, India throwing more punches with the bat to clinch a seesaw battle brought to an end by streaks of lightning.

Rohit Sharma‘s contribution – a 51-ball 67 – left the biggest mark on the game; an innings where he once again showed T20 batting was as much about timing and finesse as it is about the big hits. His sparkle allowed India some legroom despite a middle-order wobble.

A blaze of sixes towards the end from Krunal Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja lifted them to 167-5, which looked good enough for the first six overs of West Indies’ chase. Then, Rovman Powell announced himself as India’s bowlers briefly switched off.

He raised a 30-ball half-century to keep West Indies in the hunt, even as Nicholas Pooran’s struggle for timing proved to be an obstacle. Then they lost both Pooran and Powell in the same over to Krunal. This double-strike threw West Indies 22 runs behind the DLS par score when lightning stopped play with the score on 98-4 in 15.3 overs.

India’s Rohit Sharma hits a six during the second Twenty20 international cricket match against the West Indies, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Lauderhill, Fla. At left is West Indies wicket keeper Nicholas Pooran. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Contrasting fortunes of India’s openers

There was some moisture and early-morning swing for the fast bowlers, but Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas struggled for rhythm. Rohit put the first ball to the fine-leg boundary and looked to carry on his World Cup form. He trusted the pace and bounce to hit Cottrell for two boundaries in the fourth over: first a walk-across flick over midwicket and the second a lofted inside-out hit over extra cover.

At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan struggled for timing in front of square. As a result, he was largely trying to use the pace to pick runs behind the wicket. Occasionally, he was beaten for pace looking to uppercut. He couldn’t generate power while hitting through the line and run scoring seemed a struggle.

However, Rohit’s blazing form – he became the most prolific six-hitter in T20Is – allowed Dhawan to play himself in. India still had a firm footing as the Powerplay brought them seven fours and a six; they raced to 52 for no loss. Dhawan fell out of desperation in the eighth when he was bowled while attempting a hoick across the line to a full Keemo Paul delivery.

Krunal, Jadeja’s slobberknocker of a finish

Virat Kohli kicked on seamlessly, but Rishabh Pant did not give himself an opportunity to make a splash in the end-overs, picking out short third man attempting a cheeky upper cut off his fifth delivery. Manish Pandey, perhaps batting out of position – a bulk of his T20 success has come batting in the top four – was out playing a ugly heave soon after.

West Indies suddenly were looking at restricting India to 150. Job well done, yes? Krunal had other ideas. On 7 off 9 and struggling to adjust to the slower variations, Paul presented him with a juicy full toss which he flicked over deep midwicket for six.

With his confidence restored, he used the depth of the crease to convert an attempted yorker into a half-volley to muscle the next ball over long-on. Jadeja then ended the innings with a flourish – the final over being nailed for 20 – when he bisected long-on and deep square for the third six. India had an above-par score.

West Indies’ Rovman Powell hits a six during the second Twenty20 international cricket match against India, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Lauderhill (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Powerplay stifle

West Indies were walking on a tightrope, denied any room to cut or pull. Bhuvneshwar Kumar cleverly stuck the ball into the wicket with his slower variations and had Evin Lewis jabbing one that he brilliantly held on his followthrough in the second over.

West Indies’ decision to take a left out of the Kolkata Knight Riders’ book and promote Sunil Narine also came a cropper as he was deceived in flight to be bowled by Washington Sundar, not before he’d consumed 12 balls for his four. After four, they were tottering at 9-2.

The Powell muscle

Powell displayed brute force and utter disregard for the bowling, perhaps with little option left. A batting strategy that can sometimes border on the reckless brought him rewards as he cleared the short straight boundaries effortlessly to give two rookies Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini the jitters. Saini, Man-of-the-Match on debut on Saturday, was taken for 27 off three wicketless overs. As Powell blazed past fifty, West Indies had begun to mount a serious threat, needing 85 off 42.

Up until this point, Pooran struggled to rotate strike and bring out the big hits, pottering to 19 off 31. He had to go for broke, he tried and fell in the process as Pandey made the pop up boundary catch look coolly nonchalant. Two balls later, Powell played all around a full delivery and was stone dead. As the weather closed in, West Indies didn’t do themselves any favours. Not even the presence of Pollard and Shimron Hetmyer meant much from there on. (ESPNCricinfo)

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