It was all going very well until India needed 8 from the last 6 balls in the first T20 game against the West Indies in USA. After West Indies amassed 245/6 with explosive displays from Evin Lewis and Johnson Charles, India responded on equal terms and reached 238/3 in 19 overs. The way the Indians played, they looked like paying back the West Indians on the same token. In the last over, however, India’s batsmen were bogged down. It was more a case of mindset under pressure than cricket capabilities. The target in the last over had become too easy for India to lose from that point and it was definitely their game to win. But they choked. They scored just 6 runs from Dwayne Bravo’s last over and lost the match by a solitary run. These are the vagaries of cricket’s changing formats. The West Indies were no match to India in tests, but in T20, they are world champions. In a way, they proved their superiority in the shortest format of cricket and denied India any pleasure of chasing down a huge score of 245.
It was the first time that ICC allowed an official cricket match to be held on US soil. There is only one cricket stadium in the US that ICC approved for its matches. Given that Indians are present in large numbers in USA, the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Florida’s Lauderhill town in the state of Florida was packed to capacity on August 27. Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and asked West Indies to bat first. The free-hitting Islanders took the decision in their stride and ransacked India’s bowling attack. Evin Lewis and Johnson Charles caused the biggest damage by scoring at enormous rate and reaching personal landmarks in cavalier fashion. No Indian bowler was spared by Lewis and Charles as they raced to 132/1 in 10 overs and added another 32 in 11th by Stuart Binny. It was their innings most productive over, in which Lewis blasted the hapless Binny for 5 sixes. That was the only over Binny was allowed by Dhoni. But other Indian bowlers were equally ineffective against the West Indian onslaught. Ravindra Jadeja yielded 39 in 3 overs, Mohammed Shami’s 4 over cost him 48 and Bhumrah gave away 47 in his 4 overs. Ravichandran Ashwin’s 36 in 4 overs was the most economical spell for India. Evin Lewis batted for just 49 balls and scored 100 with 9 sixes and 5 fours and Johnson Charles’ 79 took 33 balls and his knock was studded with 7 sixes and 6 fours. Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard had short cameos and West Indies reached 245/6 in 20 overs.
India began the chase of 246 runs required for victory but the initial impressions were about their falling short of the victory target. While Rohit Sharma looked in command, Rahane fell cheaply in the third over. Virat Kohli joined Rohit Sharma but failed to provide any fillip. With Kohli getting out in 5th over at the India score of 48/2, things began to look bleak for India. But after Lokesh Rahul joined Rohit Sharma, a transformation took place. Both batsmen played purposefully and stepped up the run rate. Rohit Sharma banged the West Indian bowlers at will to score at a brisk pace but he holed out to Pollard at the deep midwicket boundary after scoring 62 off just 28 balls including 4 sixes and 4 fours. When Rohit left, India had reached 137/3 in 11.5 overs. Rahul was already doing well at the other end, when he was joined by skipper MS Dhoni. The two of them got engaged in a very fruitful fourth wicket stand that almost carried India to a historic victory. From the 13th over onwards, they collected more than 10 runs per over with the 18th over being the only exception, in which they got 9. But they made up by scoring 16 in the 19th over. With 6 balls left and Dwayne Bravo bowling the 20th over, India required just 8 runs. Dhoni and Rahul had already completed their century partnership and an India victory looked very much on cards. However, Dhoni failed to justify his best finisher’s tag and lost his wicket when 2 runs were still needed off the last ball. West Indies snatched the 1-run victory over India, when Dhoni got out on the last ball from Bravo. By all means, it was a deserved victory for the West Indies after solid efforts from Ervin Lewis and Johnson Charles.
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