Dubai: Counter punch middle order knocks and a resolute bowling performance has moved the West Indies into an early T20I series lead over a new-look India in Trinidad.
Electing to bat on a slow Tarouba deck and losing Brandon King (28 off 19 balls) as he looked to push on, the hosts built through Nicholas Pooran (41 off 34) and skipper Rovman Powell (48 off 32), negotiating the tricky spin trio of Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
Kuldeep (1/20 off four overs) and Chahal (2/24 off three) stemmed the flow of runs after King’s quick-fire start, though the tourists would then put down two chances against Powell, whose tactic of coming down the track negated the spinners’ threat.
While not conceding a boundary in the last three overs of the West Indies innings, the 149/6 posted proved to be a tricky prospect for Hardik Pandya’s men. Left-arm orthodox spinner Akeal Hosein and quick Obed McCoy conceded just five runs between them in the first two overs, with the pressure leading to Shubman Gill’s wicket (3), stumped by Pooran after missing a Hosein delivery coming down the track. McCoy went on to take fellow opening batter Ishan Kishan for six, though the tourists found life through debutant Tilak Varma, who struck 16 runs in four balls of an Alzarri Joseph over.
Despite the loss of Suryakumar Yadav to Jason Holder (21), Varma continued his onslaught against Romario Shepherd, though was outfoxed by the fast bowler’s slower ball short ball, hitting a catch to Shimron Hetmyer to be dismissed for 39 (22).
The game looked delicately poised even after Hardik Pandya (19 off 19) was bowled for Jason Holder’s second wicket, with India needing 37 off 4.5 overs, though Kyle Mayers swung the match arguably in the hosts’ favour when he caught Sanju Samson (12) short with a direct hit run out soon after in the same over.
A flurry from Arshdeep Singh in the penultimate over meant India needed 10 off the last over with three wickets in hand, though Shepherd again held firm even after the West Indies were forced to bring an extra fielder inside the circle.
The quick cleaned up Kuldeep Yadav (3) with a yorker, before a run out on the fifth ball meant debutant Mukesh Kumar needed to hit a six off the final delivery for victory. Shepherd again hit his mark, following the batter making room to the leg-side, as the hosts held on by four runs. Holder’s 2/19 pipped Shepherd’s 2/33 for Player of the Match honours.
The teams travel to Guyana for the second and third T20Is in Providence, before matches four and five in Florida.