India 164 for 3 (Suryakumar 83, Tilak 49*, Joseph 2-25) beat West Indies 159 for 5 (King 42, Powell 40*, Kuldeep 3-28) by seven wickets
A sublime 44-ball 83 from Suryakumar Yadav, peppered with boundary shots all around the park, kept India alive in the T20I series against West Indies – the scoreline now reads 2-1 in West Indies’ favour going into the USA leg of the five-match contest. India were in a spot of bother when their two openers fell early in the chase of 160 – also the highest target of the series so far – but Suryakumar, the world’s No. 1 T20I batter, counter-attacked with ten fours and four sixes.
His innings left the West Indies bowlers with very few answers, and allowed Tilak Varma to quietly settle in and play a decisive supporting role. Tilak blossomed after Suryakumar’s dismissal to finish with an unbeaten 49 himself, a third straight innings of promise and the first one to come in a victory.
West Indies, who won the toss and opted to bat, scored 159 for 5, which seemed solid on the slow surface, but with a steady drizzle coming into play in the second innings, their bowlers had a tougher time compared to the Indian bowlers. They failed to replicate what India’s spinners – led by KuldeepYadav’s three-for – did, and the series now moves to the USA with India possibly with the momentum.
Kuldeep leads India’s spin dominance
West Indies captain Rovman Powell chose to bat at the toss, citing the used Providence surface, and India too believed the surface was slow, using nine straight overs of spin between overs three and 11. Openers Brandon King (42) and Kyle Mayers (25) found the occasional boundaries in the powerplay, but the combination of Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal ensured West Indies could score only 38 runs in the first six overs.
Axar then got the first breakthrough when Mayers mistimed a slog sweep, ending the 55-run opening stand, after which Johnson Charles’ sluggish innings allowed Chahal and Kuldeep to settle down. Kuldeep got on the scorecard when he successfully reviewed an lbw call to dismiss Charles with a googly.
With Nicholas Pooran coming in at No. 4, India went back to pace for the first time in 66 balls, Hardik bowling a second over. But Pooran pounced on Kuldeep’s left-arm wristspin from the other end to show signs of a repeat from the second T20I, where he scored a 40-ball 67.
Kuldeep, though, charged back strongly in his final over despite being aware of Pooran’s appetite for more big shots. He had Pooran stumped for 20 with a legbreak and then held on to a sharp caught-and-bowled chance to remove King. And the wickets of the set batters left West Indies with two new batters as the final five overs approached.
Powell cameo gives West Indies big finish
With four overs to go, and West Indies only 113 for 4, they needed the experienced pair of Shimron Hetmyer and Powell to step up. While Hetmyer fell in the 18th over to Mukesh Kumar’s first delivery of the match, Powell ran hard between the wickets to pick up twos when available, and then muscled the Indian quicks for boundaries.
Full tosses from Mukesh and Arshdeep Singh were dispatched, and when Arshdeep missed his yorkers and served up slot deliveries, Powell pummelled them for two more sixes in a 17-run 19th over to give West Indies hope of a 160-plus score.
A six over the leg side from Powell in the final over, bowled by Mukesh, who had given away just two runs off his first four balls of the over, helped West Indies, but they could only set India 160 for a win. After the game, though, Powell said that West Indies were a few runs short and “lost our way in the middle overs”.
SKY turns it on, Tilak produces another class act
Debutant Yashasvi Jaiswal was out in the first over of the chase to Obed McCoy trying to muscle a shot over the leg side, and soon after, an out-of-sorts Shubman Gill returned for six in 11 balls after top-edging Alzarri Joseph, West Indies’ best bowler on the day.
But between the two dismissals, Suryakumar was quick off the blocks – he hit a four and six in his first two balls – and motored along at breakneck speed. Suryakumar didn’t let the dangerous Akeal Hosein settle down in the powerplay either with a boundary apiece in the left-arm spinner’s first two overs.
Tilak began in Suryakumar’s vein with two boundary shots after he walked into bat in the fourth over after Gill’s wicket. The two of them then combined to pump 17 runs off McCoy in the final powerplay over to put India well ahead of the DLS par score with rain in the air.
After the powerplay, though, it was the Suryakumar show, where a spread outfield made no difference to the India vice-captain. Roston Chase’s full toss was flicked to long-on’s right and then back-to-back fours off Romario Shepherd took Suryakumar to his half-century in only 23 deliveries.
As the rain got heavier (but not enough to stop play), the wet ball made it tougher for the West Indies bowlers to execute their plans, and Suryakumar pounced on the smallest of errors in length or line to punish them. A scoop over fine leg and a carved shot behind point off Shepherd in the tenth over deflated West Indies further, and at the halfway mark of the chase, India were 97 for 2 and in total control.
Suryakumar eventually fell on 83 – two balls after hitting Joseph for his fourth six of the innings – when he tried to flick a loose ball to fine leg, but by then the required run-rate was well under six. In Hardik Pandya’s company, Tilak took charge of the chase with a precise pull off Hosein and a heave over square leg for six off Shepherd.
Both Hardik and Tilak also displayed solid communication when running between the wickets, and Tilak moved to 49 in the 18th over with India needing two more to win. However, he would be left stranded one short of his second T20I – and international – fifty when Hardik drilled Powell for six over long-off to seal India’s win with 13 balls to spare.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx
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