1st T20I: India beat West Indies but not without a scare
West Indies reduce hosts to 45-4 before Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey perform a rescue act while chasing paltry 110-run target
Team India drew first blood in T20I series as well, beating the West Indies by five wickets at the Eden Gardens here yesterday, but not before they had been given a little scare. Defending a modest 109, debutant Oshane Thomas launched a Caribbean comeback by removing skipper Rohit Sharma in the very first over and Shikhar Dhawan in his next to set the cat among the pigeons.
With skipper Carlos Brathwaite getting into the act and knocking down two more, the Indians were suddenly 45 for four in the eighth over and looking vulnerable. Both bowlers had cranked up the pace and found disconcerting bounce. A 38-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik put the hosts back on course. Debutant Krunal Pandya joined Karthik to lend the finishing touches as India romped home with 13 balls to spare. Karthik, who kept wickets, remained unbeaten on 31 off 34 with three boundaries and a six.
West Indies, put in to bat, never quite recovered from early blows. The top three were back in the pavilion before the game was five overs old, and no one could get things moving. After Denesh Ramdin had hung his bat out to tickle Umesh Yadav's outswing, Shai Hope was run out in a most bizarre fashion when he failed to beat Shimron Hetmyer to the crease with both batsmen running towards the non-striker's end. Hope, included in the squad after the late and intriguing pull-out of an injured Andre Russell, was looking good.
Hetmyer himself left the next over, top-edging Jasprit Bumrah after the ball got big on him. Runs came in a trickle as comeback men Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo tried to put the innings on an even keel. Pollard, back in Windies jersey after a year, announced intent by sending left-arm spinner Pandya over long-on after having taking 17 deliveries to score just five.
The resurrection of hope proved a fleeting period as Pandya got his man in his next over while Pollard found Manish Pandey at long-on. It triggered the next collapse as the World T20 champions lost another four wickets in the space of six overs with the addition of just 25 runs. Among those prised out were the experienced Bravo and Brathwaite. Bowling the middle overs in tandem with Pandya, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav finished with three for 13 from his four overs. Pandya had one for 15.
It was left to some late hitting by debutants Fabian Allen (27 off 20 with four boundaries) and Kahry Pierre (9 not out off 5 with two fours),and Keemo Paul (15 off 13 with two fours) to give Windies a three-figure total. India were still left with what looked an easy target. Till a couple of burly West Indian pacers decided to make the hosts sweat a little.
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