India sweeps series against West Indies

 

 

On view was brutal force. The ball was bludgeoned to different corners of the ground. And India sealed another run-chase ...but only after a scare.

The Delhi duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant, both left-handers and both explosive, cut loose when the match seemed in the balance.

Then came a twist in the tale. Pant (58) was castled by Keemo Paul and it boiled down to five runs off the last over from left-arm spinner Fabian Allen. It became one off three when Allen, holding his nerve, delivered a dot ball and had Dhawan (92) caught in the deep off the fifth.

With a single needed off the last ball, Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik scampered for a single. What a finish!

It was a dramatic last-gasp conclusion but eventually the blitzkriegs from Dhawan and Pant enabled India complete a 3-0 sweep of the West Indies in the T20I series at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Tricky
India chased down a tricky target of 182 on a surface where the odd ball spun. The six-wicket margin was hard earned and the 130-run partnership in 80 balls between Dhawan and Pant took India to the doorstep.

Dhawan bats with the instincts of a gambler. A buccaneering left-hander who can hit the ball with enormous power, he can harness the pace on the ball too. The six over mid-wicket off the fast and furious Oshane Thomas was a tremendous blow. Here bat-speed combined with powerful wrists as the ball was sent soaring into the stands.

And the punishing Pant cut and pulled the pacemen, played the reverse sweep to unsettle the bowlers and simply smote the spinners. This swashbuckler’s batting is a lot about confidence. Pant disrupts the rhythm of the bowlers with his unique brand of strokeplay where he doesn’t always seems balanced but connects his shots.

Dhawan and Pant took the game by the scruff of its neck after Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul fell early.

Earlier, the West Indies put up a challenging score. Perhaps, the need to bat without the pressures of the scoreboard was behind its decision to set India a target.

Flying start
And the Caribbeans had their two bright young batsman — Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer — at the top of the order. The right-left combination was off to a flier.

The engaging Hope does have a trigger movement forward but is balanced and organised with the ability to time the ball through the open spaces.

Hetmyer inflicted damage, too. He is more impulsive than Hope, his aggression is rather visceral in nature, and he does use his feet.

Racing away
The southpaw clipped Khaleel as he strayed in line, swung an off-colour Bhuvneshwar past the ropes, and struck Washington Sundar over his head. West Indies had raced to 51 in the six PowerPlay overs.

Rohit Sharma, a smart captain, was pro-active with his changes. He replaced Washington with Krunal Pandya for an over, then brought in Yuzvendra Chahal.

West Indies lost wickets and momentum as Chahal struck. The leg-spinner bowled well, spun the ball and brought his googly into play.

Washington, bowling his off-spinners with a measure of control in his comeback match, had Denesh Ramdin playing on to a quicker delivery not quite short enough for the cut.

Skilful, explosive
India had fought back but then came a change in the script. Two southpaws — the skilful Darren Bravo (43 not out) and the explosive Nicolas Pooran (53 not out) — went ballistic with an unbeaten 87-run stand for the fourth wicket in only 43 deliveries.

Bravo’s six over long-off off Krunal was all about timing. The ease in his methods, whether travelling forward or back, is pleasing to the eye.

Pooran’s batting bristled with bat-speed, power and innovation. He pulled and off-drove Bhuvneshwar for sixes, and used the reverse sweep effectively.

Khaleel proves costly
The Indian attack wilted towards the end with Khaleel, who had earlier sent down some useful toe-crushers, conceding 23 in the final over.

In the end, it boiled down to one run. And India was home running.

=================================================================================