Hyderabad: The Caribbeans were cruising in the first half of the game, they then hit an iceberg in Virat Kohli... and sank without a trace. Thanks to their captain, India won a high-scoring opener on a canter to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20 series on Friday night.
Kohli was all fire as he set about enhancing his reputation of being a Chase Master. Facing a stiff target of 208, the skipper shone bright with a numbing 94 not out that was rattled off 50 balls and contained six fours and an equal number of sixes to finish the game with eight balls to spare and six wickets in hand.
Such was his acceleration towards the end that India smashed 55 in the last 22 balls to leave the Windies stunned. Kohli’s crackathon relegated a fine knock of 62 by opener K.L. Rahul into the background in a match that saw 27 sixes, a new high in T20 internationals played in India.
Earlier, the West Indians whacked the ball around with much gusto to power their team past 200 after being asked to bat first.
Shimron Hetmyer hit a half-century, Evin Lewis smashed a flashy 40, captain Kieron Pollard thumped 37 and Brandon King and Holder played cameos as the visitors walloped the Indian attack. Hetmyer and Lewis batted as if to prove a point respectively to IPL franchises Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians, who released them, ahead of the December 19 auction.
The Caribbeans batted brilliantly in pairs – Lewis and King put on 51 for the second wicket, Hetmyer and Pollard raised 71 for the fourth and Holder and Denesh Ramdin were involved in a whirlwind 34-run unbroken stand for the sixth.
The hosts began on the wrong foot. Sundar’s spin trick didn’t work for Virat, who gambled with him in the first over. Lewis thrashed the off-spinner for a six and four as Windies took 13 off the opening over.
A the other end, pacer Deepak Chahar struck with his second delivery, inducing an edge off Lendl Simmons that landed safely in the hands of Rohit Sharma at first slip. That brought Brandon King and Lewis together. The two scored at a quick pace to build a decent platform for their teammates before Lewis fell leg before to Sundar. Windies 64 for 2 in the sixth over.
Hetmyer then joined King and began to bust the ball around. The left-hander was got everything right with the bat and brought up his half-century in style too – with a six off Yuzvendra Chahal that sailed over long-off. He was soon gone though, after a fine 56 that included two boundaries and four maximums.
Heavyweight Pollard then landed some big punches — four sixes and a boundary to rattle a 19-ball 37 and Holder helped himself to two sixes and a four in his 24 that came off just 9 balls as the Windies tallied 11 fours and 15 sixes in their impressive innings.
Rohit Sharma had a mixed day on the field, acrobatically saving a couple of boundaries but flippantly flooring a chance as well. Washington Sundar too slipped in the outfield while Pant wasn’t too peppy in big gloves.
West Indies: L. Simmons c Sharma b Chahar 2, E. Lewis lbw b Sundar 40, B. King st Pant b Jadeja 31, S. Hetmyer c Sharma b Chahal 56, K. Pollard b Chahal 37, J. Holder not out 24, D. Ramdin not out 11. Extras (lb2, w4) 6. Total (for five wickets in 20 overs) 207.
FoW: 1-13, 2-64, 3-101, 4-172, 5-173.
Bowling: Sundar 3-0-34-1, Chahar 4-0-56-1, Kumar 4-0-36-0, Jadeja 4-0-30-1, Chahal 4-0-36-2, Dube 1-0-13-0.
India: R. Sharma c Hetmyer b Pierre 8, KL Rahul c Pollard b Pierre 62, V Kohli (not out) 94, R Pant c Holder b Cottrell 18, S Iyer c & b Pollard 4, S Dube (not out) 0. Extras (b 4, lb 2, nb 3, w 14) 23. Total (for four wickets in 18.4 overs) 209.
FoW: 1-30, 2-130, 3-178, 4-193.
Bowling: Cottrell 4-0-24-1; Holder 4-0-46-0; Pierre 4-0-44-2; Walsh 2-0-19-0; Williams 3.4-0-60-0; Pollard 1-0-10-1.