There were talks about India wrapping the series up in Thiruvananthapuram. However, that wasn’t to be it as West Indies steamrolled the hosts and registered an easy victory. India’s weakness while batting first in the T20I format showed once again after they were asked to do so. This is the sixth time in the last nine T20Is when the Men in Blue lost while batting first.
The Indian openers couldn’t make a huge impact this time around. Instead, it was the newbie Shivam Dube who starred with the bat. He registered in maiden T20I fifty in this game and scored 54 off 30 balls. Other valuable contribution in the innings came from Rishabh Pant who remained unbeaten on 33. On a slowish track, the hosts put up a score of 170/7 in 20 overs. Hayden Walsh and Kesrick Williams accounted for two wickets each.
It was an easy chase for the West Indies. The openers set the tone for them with a good partnership. Even though the scoring rates weren’t high initially, it was never a problem for them with the kind of batting that they possess. Lendl Simmons, for the first time after that semi-final of T20 World Cup 2016, registered a T20I fifty.
He remained unbeaten on 67 runs off 45 balls. In between, Shimron Hetmyer upped the ante with a 14-ball 23 while Nicholas Pooran remained unbeaten on 38 runs. West Indies won by 8 wickets and with balls to spare. With this win, West Indies ended their 7-match losing streak against India. The home team’s fielding standards were really not up to the mark in this game and they dropped a few important catches.
Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, said
Numbers say a lot of things. They can say a lot of things that aren’t there as well. I think we were good for 16 overs while batting. But then last four overs we got only thirty. We need to focus on that. Shivam’s knock helped us reach 170.
To be honest, WI bowled cutters and their change of pace did not help us. But if we field so poorly, no amount of runs will be enough. We were poor with the field in the last two games. We dropped two catches in one over. Imagine if they lost two wickets in the same over.
Everyone saw we need to be more brave in fielding. Do or die game coming up in Mumbai. (About Dube) we knew they will use spinners early so we thought why not use Shivam’s power. The plan worked well. (The catch he took) It was just something that stuck in my hand. Committed to the ball and luckily it stuck. I dropped a one-hander in the last game. West Indies played a very good game and they deserved to win.
Kieron Pollard, the West Indies captain, said
Things like low rankings happen. Different circumstances, that’s in the past. What we can control is what’s in front of us. To be able to restrict India to 170 after my expensive over, it was fantastic. The way we batted, we had discussed how to approach the game, and the boys played it well.
We have some guys who have done well from the CPL, and we are excited for them. I am pretty excited for this young bunch. Walshy’s four overs were really good. Kesrick bouncing back too. Simmo started slow, but he knows he can catch up. He has played a lot in India. Seniors showed their way and youngsters followed.
I am continuing to enjoy my cricket. Most I can do is pass on the knowledge to the youngsters. We will have good results if we stay as a unit. I pride myself on being a leader. God has given me a talent to play cricket. So when I come out, I come out with a will to win. And now captain, the will is stronger. But there were areas we need to improve about: couple of wides, couple of no-balls. We look forward to the final game at Wankhede.
Lendl Simmons, the Man of the Match, said
Like playing against India. It’s a good challenge. Haven’t played international cricket for a while, so enjoying it. I didn’t start how I wanted to. My partners can go from ball one but I am a bit old schooled. With experience, you know your game, and I understand my role. It was easier to bat after the Powerplay: getting the odd boundary. Pooran and Hetmyer were getting boundaries easily so I played the different role.