Record-breaking Lewis overshadows India

In a one-off T20I, you get just the one chance. You get no time to get a look-in or settle down and then take it from there. You have to showcase whatever you’ve got the moment the opportunity presents itself. The Indian batsmen did a fine job to get to 190 in their 20 overs, but what followed was an absolute onslaught. Evin Lewis had scored a century against India in a T20I last year, but in this T20I, they faced a batsman who looked unstoppable, who was riding on his luck and who made his luck count to take his team home in style. Lewis made a run chase which was supposed to look tough, quite easy in the end.

The action moved to the shortest format, but that didn’t bring any change of fortune for Virat Kohli. The Indian skipper lost his sixth toss in a row and West Indies opted to bowl. India handed Kuldeep Yadav his T20I debut after a successful ODI series against the hosts. They also recalled Dinesh Karthik to their playing XI. There was an unfortunate moment for Team India right before the toss. All-rounder, Hardik Pandya was seen limping and he had to miss this clash. West Indies were boosted with the likes of Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard in their playing XI.

As is the case in most T20Is, the leg spinner, Samuel Badree opened the bowling for West Indies. He has a terrific record in Powerplays, but this time he started off by conceding a boundary off his very first ball, when Kohli glanced one through the leg side to get going. He conceded two more boundaries in the over and it was for the first time he had conceded over 10 runs in the first over of the game in 21 occasions. Virat Kohli continued dealing in boundaries and Shikhar Dhawan joined the skipper as well. The openers were scoring runs off boundaries regularly in the first few overs, whereas West Indies were searching a breakthrough.

West Indies kept changing bowlers, but it didn’t pay off for them, as Virat Kohli continued to hammer the attack. The West Indies bowlers couldn’t stop the run-flow and boundaries kept flowing off the bat. Eventually, Virat Kohli played a shot too many and mistimed one towards mid on where Sunil Narine took the catch. Kesrick Williams had an interesting celebration, as it looked like he ticked a box in his bucket list. Taking Virat Kohli’s wicket is a tough task and the bowler managed to do so. Rishabh Pant walked in to bat, and soon there was a mix-up. Pant played one to the leg side and Dhawan called for a quick run. Pant however, sent his senior Delhi team-mate back, but the bowler, Kesrick Williams ran to his left, collected the ball and scored a direct hit at the non-striker’s end. India suddenly lost the entire momentum and needed another partnership.

Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik were suddenly two new batsmen at the crease, and they had a task on their hands. The duo batted really well and kept the scoreboard ticking. Once they were set, they started to hit some lusty blows. Dinesh Karthik returned to the T20I format after 7 years but he didn’t show any rustiness. The right-handed batsman played some stylish shots in his innings and was building his innings perfectly. Pant started cutting loose in the 16th over when he took on Marlon Samuels. Karthik got out soon and missed out on his maiden T20I fifty when he went too far across to play the ball to the leg side, but missed it and got bowled.

MS Dhoni joined Pant as India looked to score quickly in the last few overs. The recently turned 36-year-old former skipper, mistimed a shot and perished early to Jerome Taylor. Pant got out the very next ball edging one behind, playing an ambitious shot and Taylor was on a hat-trick. Ravindra Jadeja played out the hat-trick ball and he along with Kedar Jadhav had a task to finish things off on a high. Jadhav departed in the next over when Sunil Narine took a brilliant catch at deep square leg. India were losing wickets at the wrong time. Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin belted 18 runs off the last over and took India to a stiff 190/6.

West Indies would have backed themselves at the innings break to chase down this total with the batting firepower they possess. With Chris Gayle back in the line-up and Evin Lewis to open, the hosts got off to a sensational start. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a good first over, but Chris Gayle announced his return in style when he tonked a six off Ashwin in the second over of the innings. The hard-hitting opener slowed down though, while Evin Lewis had some other plans. He was sever on the Indian bowlers and was dealing in fours and sixes off Shami and Ashwin. He rubbed salt on India’s wounds, when the chance he offered was put down due to a collision between Kohli and Shami around mid on. Another chance was put down, this time by Dinesh Karthik who ran hard at long off but couldn’t take the catch in the end. Lewis was riding his luck and brought up his fifty with his fabulous shots.

India finally got the breakthrough, thanks to Kuldeep Yadav when Gayle’s leading edge went high up in the air and Dhoni got under the ball to complete the catch. However, Lewis didn’t stop. He continued playing his big shots and kept the required run rate in check and didn’t let it rise. Runs were simply flowing off his blade and India were finding it tough to keep him quiet. Making up for the two lives, Lewis began hitting the ball cleanly blasting fours and sixes frequently.

Marlon Samuels wasn’t taking any risk though and took his own time while Lewis was doing all the damage. Once local lad, Samuels got his eye in, he started his onslaught in the 14th over when he faced Shami. He powered Shami hard through the covers for a belligerent six and it looked like the shot of the day. The duo also brought up their 50-run stand in no time, Lewis scoring most of the runs. Evin Lewis then started smashing Jadeja as well, who had bowled a tight first over. In the 15th over, Lewis brought up his century, his second in T20Is. Interestingly, both of them have come against India. There was a unique celebration by him as he couldn’t control his joy after reaching the three-figure mark.

Such was the day for India that even MS Dhoni missed a stumping off Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling. Samuels was way down the track and Dhoni could have stumped him easily by his standards, but it just wasn’t to be. Lewis’ innings didn’t stop as he went on to create and break many records. His ton was the first by a West Indian batsman in the islands, in T20Is. He also smashed the most sixes against India in a T20I. Not just that, when he hit the winning six, he took his name in the record book – smashing most number of sixes by a West Indies batsman in an innings. It was a brutal run chase as the hosts got home in style, with 9 wickets remaining and in the 19th over. It was the highest score by any batsman in a run chase in T20Is and the third highest overall.

West Indies would be delighted with this sweet win after the series loss in the ODIs. India will return home, feeling disappointed that they couldn’t defend 190. They were in a position to cross 200 too, but faltered in the death overs. 15-20 more runs may have just made the chase and the game a bit tighter than the way it ended. India will travel to Sri Lanka for a tour which starts later this month and will look to enjoy this short break. There were many positives on this West Indies tour for India. Kuldeep Yadav showed great skills in his debut series. Virat Kohli’s appetite when it comes to chasing was evident in the final, deciding ODI. Ajinkya Rahane’s consistency at the top of the order was pleasing to watch. Overall, India had a fruitful visit to the Caribbean islands, and will hope the form gets going when they visit the island on the other side of the world.

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