Pooran’s third successive half-century in vain as West Indies end tour without a single win
India 184 for 5 (Suryakumar 65, Venkatesh 35*, Holder 1-29) beat West Indies 167 for 9 (Pooran 61, Shepherd 29, Harshal 3-22, Chahar 2-15, Venkatesh 2-23) by 17 runs
Defeat in the third and final T20I meant West Indies ended their tour of India winless, having been comprehensively blanked 3-0 in the ODIs. The margin was the same in the T20Is, but West Indies were more competitive in the shortest format.
Until Suryakumar and Venkatesh came together, India were 93 for 4 in 13.5 overs, the run-rate dawdling at 6.72 per over. The duo nearly doubled India’s total in the remaining 6.1 overs, with a whirlwind stand of 91. The shot-making from both was audacious, and breathtaking in its audacity too. If Suryakumar played a sweep shot with the ferocity and effect of a full-blooded pull, Venkatesh walked into his drives with elegance that wouldn’t have been out of place at a fine-dining sit-down. Then Suryakumar showed wrists of steel and hands that moved at the speed of sound in cracking sixes straight, and Venkatesh made jaws drop with a pick-up shot for six that thrilled as much for effect as execution.
Suryakumar was out off the final ball of the innings trying to hit his eighth six of his innings, for 65 off 31, while Venkatesh remained unbeaten on 35 off 19. The 184 that they dragged India to seemed above par at that point. It eventually proved to be just about enough as West Indies’ own six-hitters came out swinging too.
India brought in Avesh Khan, Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Shardul Thakur for this game, with Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant given a bio-bubble break and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal rested. Rohit Sharma threw another curveball at the toss when he said that the openers would be Ishan Kishan with Gaikwad, and that he himself would be dropping down the order. Kishan had not had good returns in the first two T20Is, but found better timing in this game. Gaikwad fell early, but Shreyas got off the blocks quickly too.
West Indies also had four changes, with Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr, Dominic Drakes and Shai Hope coming in for Brandon King, Odean Smith, Akeal Hossein and Sheldon Cottrell. Walsh Jr and Roston Chase’s spin combination reined India in after the quick start. Shreyas was out when looking to take the attack to Walsh Jr, and Rohit was in the middle in the 10th over against spin, not the best starting conditions for him.
They both took an over to settle in, and then both blasted off together. The last five overs brought 86 runs, the most India have ever got in the last five of a T20I innings. The last four overs were carted for 69 runs, the second most for India in the death overs, just one run behind the 70 they got against England in the 2007 T20 World Cup, which contained Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in one over Both batters made the most of West Indies’ bowling options being in their favour, with the spinners at the end of their spells. The pacers were carted all over, as boundaries and sixes cascaded.
Chahar pulls up, Pooran’s form continues
Chahar was finding appreciable swing with the new ball, and had already nipped out both openers caught behind, when he pulled up. West Indies batted like a team who didn’t need to worry about wickets – Drakes was slotted in at No.10 – and the duo of Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell picked up from where they left off in the second T20I. Both men were belting the cover off the ball, and with India missing Chahar, West Indies seemed on course to finally win a game.
However, Harshal’s intelligent bowling combined with Thakur’s athleticism as a fielder to see off Powell, excellently caught running back when a pull off a well-bowled short ball that he had to fetch outside off went awry. Pooran hit his third successive half-century of the series, and Romario Shepherd showed a glimpse of why his big-hitting is rated so highly with a couple of mighty blows. They threatened to mount a heist, but Harshal and Thakur combined for pin-point death bowling that scuppered West Indies. Only 19 runs came off the last three overs, and the pendulum swung decisively towards India.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo