India survive onslaught from Powell and Pooran to seal series
SUMMARY: India 186-5 in 20 overs (Rishabh Pant 52*, Virat Kohli 52, Venkatesh Iyer 33; Roston Chase 3-25) beat West Indies 178-3 in 20 overs (Rovman Powell 68*, Nicholas Pooran 62; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/29) by eight runs.
A six-hitting spectacle from Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran almost ruined India’s night before they managed to hold on to a tight win over West Indies in Kolkata on Friday to seal the T20I series.
Powell and Pooran joined forces when the chips were down for the West Indies, but managed to revive the chase and give India a massive scare with a century stand that came off 60 deliveries.
Pooran’s wicket in the penultimate over proved to be the key before Harshal Patel withstood an assault and came back strong in the final over to deliver an eight-run win.
King endures a nightmare
West Indies, struggling with the bat on this tour, didn’t look like an outfit that had it to chase down 187 when they began their innings.
Both Kyle Mayers and Brandon King didn’t make use of the Powerplay with Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar finding swing. Only 34 runs were scored in the first five overs and as a result, something had to give.
Mayers got a thick leading edge and was gobbled up by the bowler Yuzvendra Chahal himself. King at the other end endured an absolute nightmare failing to tee off.
Even though Pooran began his innings with a bang, King’s inability to get going hurt WI’s chances big time. Eventually, his scratchy knock came to an end as he hit one straight to the fielder at long on to depart for a 30-ball 22.
The Pooran-Powell show
At 59-2 in the ninth over, the visitors needed something special from their power-hitters in the middle order to revive them. And they found two saviours in the form of Pooran and Powell.
Pooran, having already scored a fifty in the first game, was on the money once again fetching boundaries regularly. Powell then got the pull to perfection to begin with a bang.
While Pooran made the most of his reprieve handed by Ravi Bishnoi, Powell too got into the act to slowly turn the fortunes around. 43 runs in the space of four overs signalled a shift in momentum and suddenly, the West Indies needed an achievable 63 from the final five overs.
Rohit Sharma had two crucial overs of Harshal Patel up his sleeve but had to rely on Bhuvneshwar and Chahar to get the job done at the other end. While Bhuvneshwar did deliver, Chahar was smashed for a couple of sixes that kept the visitors in the hunt.
How did India snatch it then?
37 runs were needed from 18 deliveries with the red-hot Pooran and Powell at the crease. Purely going by momentum, West Indies appeared favourites to snatch this one. But India still had two overs of the wily Harshal to bank on and he eventually delivered in the 18th over by conceding only eight runs.
Bhuvneshwar then went one step ahead and managed to give away just four runs in the penultimate over that also saw Pooran mistime one, only for Bishnoi to not repeat his mistake.
25 runs were needed off the final six balls as a result and Powell did cause panic when he smashed the third and the fourth ball of the over for sixes but Harshal’s well-disguised slower ball did the trick to seal the deal.
Did India get off to a flier in their innings?
Not really. Ishan Kishan struggled once again and was troubled by Sheldon Cottrell, who eventually managed to gobble him up to start with a wicket-maiden.
Virat Kohli, however, came out with a positive approach and was dealing in boundaries. Brandon King failed to latch onto a chance offered by Rohit Sharma, but that didn’t hurt West Indies anyway.
Rohit failed to shift gears and a miscued six helped him drag that strike rate past 100. In his attempt to force the pace, the Indian captain miscued a shot once again, this time off Roston Chase to fall for an 18-ball 19.
Chase stops India’s march
The off-spinner turned out to be an unlikely hero for the West Indies as he helped them apply the brakes and peg India back. Even though Kohli looked fluent, Chase’s introduction dried up the boundaries as he kept bowling a nagging length.
Suryakumar Yadav was the next to fall as he mistimed one back to the offspinner, much to West Indies’ delight and Kohli soon became Chase’s third victim of the night. Batting on 46, the former India captain connected one cleanly, only for Jason Holder to palm it over the boundary rope.
But Chase got the job done off the very next delivery with a beauty that pitched and turned in to beat the batsman’s defence and shatter the stumps.
So how did India reach 186 then?
Thanks to Pant and Venkatesh. From 110-4 after 14 overs, India ended up with 186 thanks to the two left-handers who went bonkers at the death. Pant fetched 14 runs off Kieron Pollard’s only over and Iyer got going at the other end on the back of successive boundaries off Cottrell.
Holder bore the brunt towards the end as both the batsmen fetched a six each and damaged his figures as he ended up conceding 45 in his quota. If not for a top over from Romario Shepherd to finish the innings, India could have easily gone past 190. In the end, West Indies only had themselves to blame for that sedate start which cost them the game. (cricbuzz.com)