Chahar, Kohli-Pant make it 3-0
Virat Kohli-led Team India pulled off a perfect performance in the Windies T20I series, winning the third T20I at Guyana by 7 wickets.
India made three changes to their playing XI - Deepak Chahar and KL Rahul found a place with Khaleel and Rohit Sharma resting. Rahul Chahar made his debut for India.
Winning toss amidst bouts of rain at Providence, Kohli opted to field. Following Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s first over which gave away only a solitary run, Deepak Chahar got India an early breakthrough, opening bowling from the other end. Deepak bowled one wider and fuller, getting a leading edge off Sunil Narine’s bat and sending him back for 2.
Deepak’s next over fetched India two crucial wickets – of Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer. Lewis reviewed his decision, only to prove the umpire right and walked away for 10 off 11 deliveries.
At the end of the fourth over, India were in the driver’s seat with Windies tottering at 14 for 3.
Though Kieron Pollard, Windies’ lone soldier from the first T20I, got off the mark with a six in the next over, Nicholas Pooran and he were cautious enough not to add to the landslide of wickets which the top-order had triggered.
Pollard and Pooran stitched a substantial partnership after the initial debacle, adding 66 runs together. While Pooran tried to buy time to get used to the pitch, Pollard went berserk, scoring at a strike-rate of over a hundred. While the Windies batsmen looked comfortable batting against Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya, Pooran perished to a change of bowling as Kohli brought Navdeep Saini back. Trying to play the first delivery of Saini’s over to the third man, Pooran edged to a diving Rishabh Pant to leave the crease for 17.
Pollard carried on, to play yet another delightful knock, eventually scoring his third T20I fifty, first since 2012, off 40 balls. Reaching the milestone with a six, Pollard looked immensely confident and kept clearing the fence.
Saini yet again struck at the time of need, as he got the better of a destructive Pollard coming back after his success against Pooran. While Pollard anticipated a wider delivery, Saini came up with a slower fuller ball closer to the stumps that passed through Pollard’s defences.
Sooner, Rahul Chahar got his first international wicket, getting rid of the Windies skipper Brathwaite for a mishit. With the loss of back to back wickets, the scoring rate went down significantly. However, Rovman Powell provided the total with a final push, hitting a couple of sixes in the last over of the innings as Windies piled up a competitive 146 for 6 on the board at the end of their 20 overs.
Coming back to chase 147, India lost their first two wickets early. Oshane Thomas got the better of Shikhar Dhawan in the second over of India’s chase, varying pace and getting the southpaw to play to the hands of Sheldon Cottrell at fine leg.
Though KL Rahul looked good for a bigger knock, hitting a couple of boundaries after Dhawan’s departure, he was undone by Fabian Allen in the fifth over, for 20.
Despite losing two early wickets, the next batsmen, Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli looked extremely confident and comfortable, maintaining at least one boundary in almost every over that followed. The Pant-Kohli partnership was the need of the hour and both played as the per the situation’s demand, sneaking runs in singles, not letting the scoring rate drop.
Once the partnership was fifty runs strong, both batsmen switched gears to speed up. Soon enough, Kohli got to his 21st T20I half-century. Pant reached the milestone too, his second T20I half-century.
With 14 needed for India to win, Thomas picked up the crucial wicket of Kohli. However, Pant stayed at the crease to take India across the line with Manish Pandey at the other end. Pant’s six over bowler Brathwaite’s head took India to the desired result, with five balls to spare.
While both Kohli and Pant were on top of their game, it was Deepak Chahar who performed brilliantly with the ball, registering numbers of 3 for 4 from his three overs to help India post a dominant victory.
India will start their ODI series against the hosts at the same venue on Thursday.