A Suryakumar Yadav 360-degree batting master-class ensured India on Sunday climbed atop the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Twenty20 International rankings, for the first time since May 2016, toppling a clueless West Indies unit in the last of three T20Is at the Eden Gardens by 17 runs.
The 3-0 whitewash is now India’s sixth consecutive series victory in the 20-over format since the 2-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia in February 2019. Not just that, it is the side’s 13th straight win in a home series.
With the T20 World Cup Down Under looming large, skipper Rohit Sharma stayed true to his word of looking to assign adequate game time to each of his players on the bench. During the final fixture of the Windies series, India went in with four changes after Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant exited the COVID-19 secure bubble early Saturday. Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur and debutant Avesh Khan made the final eleven.
India becomes No.1 team in ICC T20I rankings for the first time in six years
An interesting ploy saw Rohit push himself down the batting order to number four, in turn allowing Ruturaj to play at his natural position with Kishan for company. However, the Maharashtra batter was done in by late movement on the ball in only the third over for four runs.
Contrary to how India has usually paced its innings in the T20Is in recent times, the team got off to a cautious start during the final game of the WI series. It managed to post only 43 on the board at the end of the PowerPlay – the lowest in the team’s last eight T20Is.
Raucous cheers from the crowd understandably reached a crescendo when the Kolkata Knight Riders’ recently-appointed captain, Shreyas, walked in next and hammered two consecutive boundaries to greet Jason Holder in the fourth over. With Kishan, Shreyas forged a useful 53-run stand before finding the tall Holder at long-off in the ninth over.
Although he got off to a promising start, Kishan’s troubles against Roston Chase’s stifling lengths and varied pace in this series came to light once again as he got castled for 34 (31b, 5×4). Son of former Windies pacer Vasbert Drakes, Dominic, making an appearance for the first time in this series, cut Rohit’s stay at the crease short, finding the top of leg-stump.
New batters Suryakumar and Venkatesh Iyer compensated for the explosive Pant’s absence, exploring all areas of the ground and ultimately taking apart pacers Drakes and Romario Shepherd for 21 runs apiece in the 19th and 20th over. Suryakumar scored a gritty 65 off only 31 balls, his fourth fifty-plus score in the format, while Venkatesh contributed with an unbeaten 35 off 19.
The highlight of Suryakumar’s innings was an audacious lap-sweep that dispatched Drakes deep into the stands at fine-leg. The shot also brought up the hundred for Rohit and Co. The half-century stand between the duo was up in only 26 deliveries.
Shepherd got the consolatory wicket of Suryakumar off the last ball of the innings, as he miscued to Rovman Powell at deep midwicket.
Chasing 185, the West Indies openers struggled to find their feet, with Deepak Chahar getting off to a dream start. Armed with prodigious swing, the pacer removed Kyle Mayers and Shai Hope in his first two overs.
Tragedy, however, struck soon after as Deepak pulled up, clutching his hamstring, during his delivery stride in the third over. Visibly in agony, he hobbled off the field in the company of team physiotherapist Nitin Patel. An official update on the injury is awaited from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Deepak’s departure handed the Windies renewed confidence. Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell picked up from where they left in the second T20I, taking the Maroon Brigade past the fifty-run mark in only 4.2 overs.
But Harshal Patel soon came to the rescue before the pair could inflict further damage, ending Powell’s cameo with the odd-short ball trap, that took the toe-edge of the bat before ballooning to Shardul at fine leg.
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Kieron Pollard’s disappointing run continued as he holed out to Ravi Bishnoi at deep cover off Venkatesh’s bowling. Jason Holder followed his captain into the hut two overs later, courtesy of the softest of dismissals. Chase, meanwhile, also failed to come good and was dismissed for 12 (7b, 2×4).
Even as Pooran got to his third successive fifty to become only the second player after New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum to achieve the feat against India in T20Is, in the end, the total proved to be a tad overwhelming for the visitor as it ended up losing nine wickets.
India will lock horns with Sri Lanka next for three T20Is and two Tests, starting Thursday, while the West Indies is set to face England in a three-Test series at home, starting March 8.
|Brief scores: India 184/5 [Suryakumar Yadav 65 (31b, 1×4, 7×6), Venkatesh Iyer 35 n.o. (19b, 4×4, 2×6); Roston Chase 4-0-23-1] beat West Indies 167/9 [Nicholas Pooran 61 (47b, 8×4, 1×6), Romario Shepherd 29 (21b, 1×4, 3×6); Harshal Patel 4-0-22-3]|