Over the years, T20 cricket has remained the West Indies’ strongest format. But the retirement of Kieron Pollard, along with the absence of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, is sure to hurt them. The youngsters’ inexperience showed as they failed to cope with the variation in the Indian attack in the series opener in Tarouba on Friday. India took a comfortable 1-0 lead in the five-match series as the West Indies fell short of the 191-run target by 68 runs.
They struggled against the guile of the spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Bishnoi in the middle overs. That sealed the match in India’s favour. Unless the West Indies find a quick solution, they will struggle in the remaining matches as well. India owed their victory to the bowlers after Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik put up a stellar show.
Rohit put to rest the lingering doubts over his form with an innings of authority. If Rohit’s commanding 66 off 44 balls laid the platform for an intimidating total, Dinesh Karthik provided the fireworks in the slog overs (41 not out off 19 balls). While the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya threw their wickets away, Rohit anchored the innings with his delectable strokeplay.
The Team India captain had provided a sneak peek into his batting form during the limited-overs series in England, but Friday showed that he is on the verge of regaining his lost touch. Rohit’s selection of shots stood out as he waited patiently for the loose deliveries. He began in scintillating fashion, stepping out to Jason Holder and smashing him over midoff for a six off his first ball.
There was another pulled six over deep square leg off Alzarri Joseph. The middle-order batters failed to build on the momentum provided by Rohit, but Karthik stood out. The wicketkeeper-batter just seems to be strengthening his claims of making the T20 World Cup squad solely as a finisher. Flexibility seems to be the mantra for Team India in their quest to “play freely” in this format. Having tried out Pant as an opener along with Rohit, they went in with Suryakumar Yadav on Friday. Surya didn’t disappoint in providing the momentum though he was lucky to have survived twice.