HYDERABAD: In seven T20Is played between India and Windies in three different countries over a span of 13 months, there has been only winner — India. But the manner in which the Caribbean islanders turned on the heat in the first half of their latest encounter against the hosts suggested there could be a change in script on Friday.
The idea was quickly nipped in the bud as skipper Virat Kohli assumed charge with an unbeaten 94 (50b; 4×6, 6×6) at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to fashion a six-wicket win with eight deliveries to spare. Windies too had enthralled with the bat after being put in, posting 207/5, the second-highest total against India at home, as Kohli and Co played generous hosts by dropping five chances.
Rahul was the initial aggressor, but Kohli exploded after an initial struggle to time the ball. Dew played a part but the duo was in control of the chase with their calculated risks. At the halfway stage, India were 89/1 as against 101/2 posted by the visitors, who were all biff and bluster as batsman after batsman rained sixes.
The hosts were not found wanting when it came to the chase, however. The 100-run second-wicket partnership between Rahul and Kohli in 62 deliveries gave India the momentum to swing another successful chase, with the hosts slamming 55 runs off the last 22 deliveries. Three front foot no-balls – by Kesrick Williams (2) and Jason Holder – went into the record books, to be called for the first time by third umpire Anil Chaudhary. They all helped India’s cause.
(Kohli mocks Kesrick Williams’ ‘notebook celebration’ after hitting the West Indies bowler for a six)
Rahul’s dismissal for 62 (40b, 5×4, 6×6) was of no respite to Windies. Williams conceded 23 runs in the 16th over as India pared down the chase to 26 runs from the last three overs and Kohli gave the finishing touch with two exquisite sixes off Williams in the penultimate over.
The 48-run stand in 19 deliveries between Kohli and Rishabh Pant played its part too in running Windies ragged in the field; and despite Pollard’s stunning catch in his follow-through to get rid of Shreyas Iyer, the visiting side will return to the park on Sunday wondering how to stop this Indian juggernaut.