Wankhede Wonder! India obliterate West Indies
Virat Kohli (70 not out) leads from the front again as India clinch T20I series against West Indies after a superlative show at the iconic venue; KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma two good
When India's top order comes to the party, there has to a blast. Wankhede Stadium witnessed its highest ever T20I total after India posted 240-3 in their 20 overs. West Indies could manage 173-8 as India won the decider by 67 runs to clinch the T20 series 2-1.
The rock stars of Wednesday's party were openers KL Rahul (91 off 56 balls), Rohit Sharma (71 off 34) and skipper Virat Kohli, who scored 70 not out in just 29 balls. Put into bat, considering India's frailty in defending totals of late, the decision backfired heavily after West Indies bowlers were taken to the cleaners from the word go when Rohit powered the second ball of the first over to extra cover to set the tone for the evening.
Both Rohit and Rahul looked keen to capitalise on the batting-friendly conditions. If Rohit went hammer and tongs in the third over, scoring 16 off it with a six [that brought up his 400th six in international cricket] and two boundaries, Rahul took 14 runs off the next over as he raced from nine runs in his first six balls to 23 in 12 balls.
Rohit brought up his half century in 23 balls with two consecutive sixes—first by going down on one knee and the other straight over the bowler's head. He then hit a classic cover drive to take 21 runs off the eighth over.
In the next over, Rahul brought up his half century with a single in 29 balls. With both openers scoring at breakneck speed, West Indies bowlers looked clueless. The visitors finally managed a breakthrough in the 12th over when Rohit tried to heave one over midwicket but mistimed it and holed out to Hayden Walsh, who took a well-judged catch.
However, the 135-run opening stand that came in just 70 balls had already done the damage. Kohli's knock further demoralised the West Indians as the skipper along with Rahul stitched yet another century stand without breaking any sweat.
After the experiment to send Rishabh Pant at No. 3 failed with the southpaw being dismissed for a duck, Kohli ensured the tempo set by his vice-captain remained intact. Not known to hit too many sixes, a charged up Kohli was all guns blazing as he smashed seven sixes in his innings.
He was particularly ruthless on Jason Holder, hitting two fours and a six as 22 runs came off the 15th over. Kohli then went berserk against West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard, scoring 27 runs off the penultimate over that included three sixes and a boundary. The over also brought up Kohli's half century in just 21 balls. Kohli's strong wrists and power were on full display when he whipped a fullish delivery for a six over midwicket. He then finished it off with a six.
Chasing an avalanche of runs, West Indies succumbed the pressure early on and were reduced to 17-3. Opener Evin Lewis's unavailability to an injury while fielding made matters worse for the Windies. The 74-run fourth-wicket stand between skipper Pollard (68) and Shimron Hetmyer (41) was the only saving grace for the visitors. Pacers Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav claimed two apiece.
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