− Lewis, Rahul smack maiden T20 centuries
BY JOHN RAMSINGH AT CENTRAL BROWARD RECREATIONAL PARK, FLORIDA
Marlon Samuels dropped Mahendra Singh Dhoni off the first ball of the final over with India still 8 runs away from an improbable victory,then held on to another easy chance with two needed off the last ball to give West
Indies a one-run victory over India in the first Paytm T20 International at the Central Broward Recreational Park in Florida on Saturday.
Set 246 to win in perfect conditions for cricket at the only international cricket venue in the United States of America, India were on course with useful knocks from opener Rohit Sharma, captain MS Dhoni and a maiden century from KL Rahul however, they fell short by one run ending on 244/4 when Dwayne Bravo defended seven runs from the final six balls.
The victory seemed a formality after India took 16 runs from the 19th over which was bowled by Andre Russell however West Indies death bowling specialist Bravo had other ideas. With eight needed for victory; the first ball flew off the top edge, Samuels at short third-man settled while Dhoni almost gave up but when the ball came crashing to the ground the batsmen scampered for a single to bring the equation to seven runs needed to win from five balls. Next ball Rahul took a single to deep extra cover then Dhoni got a leg bye followed by a Rahul single to long on and then Dhoni took a double to long off. With two needed to win from the final ball or one to send the game to a super over, Bravo produced a slower back of the length delivery to which Dhoni got a thick outside edge and found Samuels’ safe hands this time to silence the crowd of mainly Indian supporters. Dhoni (43 25 balls; 2×4; 2×6) and Rahul put on 107 runs for the fourth wicket after India were 137/3 in the 12th over when Rohit Sharma who played a gem of an innings departed for 62. Sharma started with AjinkaRahane but lost his partner for a run-a-ball seven in the third over to a brilliant running catch from Bravo at third man off Andre Russell at 31/1. ViratKohli came and thrilled briefly with three fours before he was caught down the leg side by wicket keeper Andre Fletcher off the lively Bravo. India were always in the hunt but Sharma and Rahul crashed 89 in just over seven overs to consolidate their team’s position. Sharma got to 50 from 22 balls when he hit Kieron Pollard over long on for his third six. He didn’t last long after when he was caught by Johnson Charles at long on to give Pollard sweet revenge. Sharma hit four fours and a similar number of sixes from 28 balls but Rahul found another good ally in captain Dhoni.
Rahul was growing in confidence with every stroke and got to his first 50 from 26 balls with seven fours and one six but his second 50 came off just 20 balls with four more fours and four more sixes. In all his maiden T20 century came off 46 balls to go down as the second fastest in history missing Richard Levi’s 45-ball knock by just one ball. Rahul faced just six balls after reaching his land mark including two in the final over and watched Marlon Samuels taking the match winning catch from the non-strikers end on 110 not out from 51 balls. Bravo had two wickets while Russell who hit Rahane on the helmet in the third over and fellow medium pacer Pollard claimed one each as spinners Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree went wicket-less as did new captain Carols Brathwaite who lost his first toss in charge.
In steaming hot mid-morning conditions Dhoni invited the West Indies to bat on a track that looked full of runs and an outfield that was as fast as a billiards table and the men in maroon entertained the packed house with an array of shots on their way to 245/6 the third highest T20 score. After Chris Gayle failed a fitness test on the morning of the match Evin Lewis was asked to partner Johnson Charles at the top of the order. Lewis only other innings was a seven-ball duck against Afghanistan in the recent World T20 in India but he looked ready for the role with a Man-of-the Match maiden century.
Johnson Charles played a typically aggressive innings for 79 from 33 balls (6×4; 7×6) by hitting every bowler who came his way. He got to his fourth half century at this level from just 20 balls with five fours and four sixes before he walked across his stumps and was bowled behind his legs by Mohammed Shami in the 10th over. The 126-run partnership with Lewis is the third highest by West Indies for the opening wicket and when it was ended Lewis was on 46.
After being outscored by Charles in the first half of the innings Lewis, opened up to blitz his way to his maiden 50 from 25 balls with four sweetly stroked foursto go with three powerful sixes. Andre Russell came in at number three and smashed a four and two sixes from 12 balls while adding 78 for the second wicket with Lewis before left arm spinner RavindraJadeja took two wickets in the 16th over to put a check on the scoring rate in the death overs. Russell was first to go when he was adjudged leg before wicket at 204/2 then two balls later Lewis gave Ravichandran Ashwin an easy catch at mid-wicket for an even hundred. Lewis’ maiden ton came from 48 balls in total with five fours and nine sixes and was the fifth fastest T20 hundred until Rahul pushed it down to sixth an innings later.
Kieron Pollard 22 (15 balls; 2×6), Brathwaite 14 (10 balls; 1×4; 1×6) and Lendl Simmons 0 (1 ball) all perished looking for quick runs as West Indies stutter in the end as they were well on course at one point for a score of more than 260. Dhoni called on six bowlers with only right am seamers JaspritBumrah (2-47) and Shami (1-48) getting in the wickets column. Stuart Binny had a forgettable one over spell to Lewis.
Given the ball in the 11th over, he went for 32 runs with 5 sixes, a wide and a single. Only Yuvraj Singh’s 36 runs from Stuart Broad over in the 2007 World T20 is more expensive. In total there were 32 sixes in this match. The number of sixes in the match, which is the highest in any T20I, going past the previous record of 30 in an Ireland versus Netherlands game in the 2014 World T20. The record in any T20 game is 33, in a match between Colombo Cricket Club and Colts Cricket Club earlier this year. Twenty-one of those sixes were from the West Indian batsmen, which equals the most in any T20 innings: Royal Challengers Bangalore also hit 21 in the IPL game against Pune Warriors when Chris Gayle scored 175. In a T20I, the next best is 19, by Netherlands against Ireland in the 2014 World T20. West Indies also walloped 178 runs in boundaries (21 sixes and 13 fours), the joint third best in a T20I innings.
The match aggregate, 489 is the highest in any T20 game, going past the previous best of 469 in an IPL game between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2010. In T20Is, the previous best was 467, in a South Africa-West Indies game in Johannesburg in 2015. The two totals of 245 and 244 are third and fourth in the list of highest totals in T20Is, while India’s score is the most in a run-chase by any team in all T20 matches. The teams meet again today at the same venue at 10:00h with victory not only giving the West Indies a 2-0 series win but also an overall world ranking of number two, while victory for India will see a share of the series and an overall slip to number three in the rankings.