By KSHVID SPORTS DESK.
Captain Rohit Sharma returned to form at just the right time for team India as he hit a crucial half-century in India’s comprehensive 68-run victory against the West Indies. Dinesh Karthik, gunning for a place in India’s T20 World Cup, improved his chances tremendously with a man-of-match performance in the opening T20I.
Batting first, India posted 190 in their 20 overs, which proved to be above-par on a sluggish surface. Rohit Sharma’s 64(44) and Dinesh Karthik’s 41(19) propelled India to a good score. Chasing a massive total, the West Indies were never in the game as the Indian spinners wreaked havoc to take 5 wickets between them as the hosts could only muster 122/8 in their 20 overs.
India did not go with either Ishan Kishan or Rishabh Pant to partner Rohit at the top of the order and instead went in with Suryakumar Yadav. Iyer was given a chance at No.3 ahead of Pant, while Hardik Pandya returned to his No.5 slot. India went in with three spinners, including Jadeja, Ashwin and Bhishnoi, while Arshdeep played his 2nd T20I.
West Indies went in with Kyle Mayers and Sharmarh Brooks, who opened in the ODI series as well, while Jason Holder was surprisingly promoted to No.3. Shimron Hetmeyer came in at No.6 behind Pooran and Powell. The hosts packed the lower-order with bowling all-rounders Akeal Hosein, Odean Smith and Keemo Paul.
1st innings – Rohit and Karthik propel India to 190
India continued their aggressive batting approach under new skipper Rohit Sharma as Suryakumar Yadav whipped his 2nd delivery to the boundary. The right-hander punished Jason Holder with a 16-run over, scoring a four and a six. Alzaari Joseph was given the same treatment as Surya hit a four and a six but was dismissed in the next over by Akeal Hosein.
Shreyas Iyer was out for a duck, trying to flick the ball over mid-wicket as India finished the powerplay at 45/2. Pant and Rohit continued scoring at a good rate as Rohit hit a six off Alzaari Joseph and a couple of boundaries off Keemo Paul. Pant was dismissed in the 10th over by Keemo Paul, leaving India at 88/3 at the halfway mark.
Hardik Pandya didn’t last long as he ramped a short-ball straight to third man. Rohit hit a couple of boundaries off Odean Smith after completing his half-century but was dismissed by Holder for 64. Jadeja guided a ball straight to short-third to be dismissed for 16. At 138/6 after 16 overs, India looked set for a below-par total, but Dinesh Karthik had other ideas. The hosts had just four fielders outside the circle and he combined with Ashwin to score 52 runs off the last four overs to push India’s total to 190.
“I’ve been enjoying it [the finisher’s role] a lot; it’s a very interesting role,” Karthik said at the post-match presentation after bagging the Player-of-the-Match award. You need the backing of the captain and the coach that I’ve got in abundance, so that really helps.
“What is important is assessing the wicket. On any given day in the last four-five overs when you bat, there are a lot of things you need to be aware of – the shape of the ball, the softness of the ball, [the nature of] the wicket, what kind of shots you can play, and then you need to decide. That comes with a little bit of practice and understanding the various aspects of batting.”
2nd innings – Spinners crush the West Indies
On a surface that was stopping a bit before the batsmen, Karthik’s blitzkrieg ensured India had an above-par total. Arshdeep Singh struck in his first over and removed Kyle Mayers, while Jadeja dismissed Holder in the 3rd over for a duck. Brooks got a start but was removed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the last over of the powerplay.
Skipper Nicholas Pooran came out with a positive mindset, hitting a four and a six but histruggles against off-spin continued as he was sent back into the pavilion by Ashwin. The returning Hetmeyer looked to be aggressive, hitting a four and a six but the left-hander was dismissed by Ashwin as well.
Bhishnoi bowled Powell with his favoured googly, while he stumped Odean Smith with a leg-spinner to break the back of the West Inides middle-order. The hosts struggled to score any boundaries as the pitch also slowed down considerably and finished at 122.
“190 was always going to be challenging. We got a good start but the batters did not carry on. We lost wickets every time we had some momentum and that cost us. We had already lost four wickets in the first 10 overs and that cost us the game,” Nicholas Pooran said.
“In hindsight when you look at it, the spinners did bowl well. Out mind-set was to restrict them to 170-180, with the extra all-rounder, we would have been able to chase it,” the Windies skipper added.
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