Rohit Sharma maintained his unbeaten record as captain in bilateral T20Is after India outscored West Indies by 59 runs to take an undisputed 3-1 lead in the five-match series here on Saturday.
It was a perfect weekend for the NRIs in and around Florida, as India scored for the first time 191 for 5 with useful strikes from Rishabh Pant (44 from 31 balls) and captain Rohit Sharma (33 from 16 balls), and a cameo from Axar Patel (20 not out of 8 ball).
In a ground where the highest successful run chase by any team is 98, a target of 192 was simply out of the question, and the West Indies innings bowed out for 132 in 19.1 overs.
While Brandon King (13) and Kyle Mayers (14) started the chase on a bright note, hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for three bounds in the opening, things went downhill from there.
Saturday turned out to be the day that Bhuvneshwar’s new ball-mate Avesh Khan (2/17 in 4 overs) was ready to shed his spendthrift tag with a couple of good spells.
King’s delivery stopped on him and the result was an easy return.
One-drop hitter Devon Thomas (1) wanted to advance and Avesh’s more complete delivery didn’t hit the middle of his bat, and Deepak Hooda easily took the resulting skier to complete one of his three catches.
Nicholas Pooran (8-ball 24) looked in ominous touch with three monster sixes before Mayers sold him a dummy, pulling back with a non-existent single and was stranded mid-pitch when Pant hit bail.
While Axar Patel (2/48 in 4 overs) got hit a bit, he took out Mayers and Rovman Powell (24 of 16), both pocketing deep.
Arshdeep Singh (3/12 in 3.1 overs) then braked and it became a walk in the park as the back-10 started. Ravi Bishnoi also capitalized on the opportunity with a consistent 2-for-27 from 4 overs.
Getting going, Pant and skipper Rohit missed big shots, but made useful enough contributions to propel India to 191 for 5.
Rohit and Pant were the main contributors, while Axar landed some meaty shots towards the end to go undefeated on 20 from 8 ball.
Sanju Samson was more subdued during his 30 balls and did not go off 23, often failing to find the limits, which prevented India from reaching 200.
For West Indies left-arm pacer Obed McCoy, cricket proved to be a great leveler as he was smoked out for 66 runs from his 4 overs just a week after taking a career best six wicket haul in the second ODI. He was the most expensive spell by a West Indies bowler in T20I.
Rohit’s new focus on the power play may not have produced many major hits save for half a century, but he’s certainly leading the way with positive intent from the start.
McCoy scored three sixes and 25 runs in one over. In those three, Rohit had a pair of highs: a pull over deep mid-wicket and a flat over long-off.
The one that earned him the most plaudits was a swept slog six off Akeal Hosein (1/28 in 4 overs), but the next pitch, which was a bit slower and a bit shorter, caused his downfall.
But Rohit’s 33 in a group of 53, in less than five overs, set the tone and gave other batsmen time and confidence to go after the pins.
The tendency to preserve wickets and then go after bowling, which has been a nightmare for Indian T20 teams in the recent past, is no longer visible.
The strike-rate cushion gave Pant and Deepak Hooda (21-for-19) close to six overs to produce a 47-run stoppage, which was the launching pad for Axar’s final flourish.
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