Virat Kohli stars as India beat West Indies by 6 wickets in 1st T20I
India vs West Indies: The India captain delivered yet another dominant show with an unbeaten 94 off fifty deliveries. But the win wasn’t as comfortable as the scorecard suggest.Updated: Dec 07, 2019 08:42 IST
India’s chase master Virat Kohli stuttered in the beginning but knew the fight was on as touch and timing befriended him again. India’s six-wicket win over West Indies, chasing an imposing 208-run target, was all about that. The India captain delivered yet another dominant show with an unbeaten 94 off fifty deliveries. But the win wasn’t as comfortable as the scorecard suggest. Kohli struck six sixes, India twelve in their innings. Earlier, a rampant West Indies had struck 15 sixes.
Kohli stepped on the gas towards the end but it was his 100-run second-wicket partnership with KL Rahul that laid the base of the chased. An equally significant 48-run partnership with Rishabh Pant then swung it in India’s favour. It was Rahul who took over after Rohit Sharma perished early to left-arm-spinner Khary Pierre—a Caribbean Premier League find—that forced Kohli’s early entry. Rahul was building on the confidence gained from the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, finding his range and a particular liking for the point region, with impressive square cuts interspersed by daft touches and late cuts. Kohli, on the other hand, employed more muscle than usual.
By the time India’s 100 had come up, Kohli was on 32, with more mistimed shots than usual. But Kohli knew the key was to hang in there. So composed was Rahul that when a free-hit opportunity came off Keswick Williams, he tried a cheeky paddle-sweep rather than a lofted heave. Soon enough, a chance came along in the last ball of the 13th over, when Rahul dispatched a six using the pull shot.
With West Indies spinners struggling to grip the ball with the dew setting in, it was an opportunity to ramp up the attack. But Rahul squandered the opportunity, mistiming a lofted shot to long-off, off Pierre. The arrival of Pant, promoted over Shreyas Iyer, triggered the change in momentum. Pant smacked Pierre for a six over deep-midwicket. In the next over, bowled by Jason Holder, Kohli played the shot of the match—a lofted six over long-off.
A needless provocation in the form of a stare from Williams, who wasn’t having as good a day as fast bowling partner Sheldon Cottrell, was just what Kohli needed. Kohli hit a wristy six over wide long-on and celebrated it animatedly, suggesting he was striking Williams off his notebook. Pant then hit a six over long off in the same over. Suddenly, India found the steam in their chase. That 23-run Williams over was not only the most expensive conceded by the visitors but it also perhaps swung the momentum in India’s favour too. Pant’s dismissal in the next over brought on the Cottrell-salute. But with a nine-ball 18, Pant had already done enough.
Earlier in the game, India’s bowlers realised quickly how this West Indies wasn’t one to give in easily. Before India introduced Yuzvendra Chahal—the only wrist spinner picked to play—West Indies had already hammered 91 in the first nine overs. West Indies’ track record against leg-spin is terrible, but on a batting-friendly pitch, they came out all guns blazing. Chahal was also welcomed with a slog-sweep over deep-midwicket by Shimron Hetmyer off his second ball, a googly. Before Chahal’s 10-run over, West Indies had inflicted enough damage in the opening Powerplay. Evin Lewis capitalised on Washington Sundar’s lazy long hops to score thirteen in the first over, setting the tone. India had conceded 57 in the first five overs, with Deepak Chahar’s classical out-swinger to get rid of Lendl Simmons being the only moment of joy.
One of the features of the West Indies attack was no Indian bowler was allowed to settle. Sundar, Dube and Chahal had to be taken off the attack after expensive first overs. The Hetmyer-Pollard fourth wicket stand stood out as the duo hit eight sixes between them. As they got going, the fielding disintegrated too, with India dropping as many as four chances towards the latter half of the innings. Rohit was guilty twice and Sundar misjudged two other chances.
When Pollard came on to bat, Sharma quickly went to offer advice to Kohli. But India’s bowlers neither found the length nor any strategy to work. It was Dube who was guilty of conceding two boundary balls that got the West Indies skipper going. Hetmyer found such rhythm that even the partisan crowd applauded his fifty. Hetmyer finally got out, attempting a slog-sweep off Chahal, who followed it up with Pollard’s wicket—a googly doing the trick. The six-run 18th over of the innings, accounting for the twin big wickets gave the crowd some reason to cheer. India however gave away 63 runs in the last five overs.