Thursday 23, March 2023

Kohli, Pant help India clinch T20 series against WI

Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant hit attacking half-centuries to set up India's eight-run series-clinching victory over West Indies in the second Twenty20 international on Friday.

Chasing 187 for victory, West Indies finished on 178 for three despite a threatening century stand between Nicholas Pooran (62) and Rovman Powell (unbeaten 68 off 36 balls) in Kolkata.

India, who whitewashed the West Indies 3-0 in the preceding one-day matches, took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20 series.

Pooran, a left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman, smashed five fours and three sixes in his 41-ball knock before falling to pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar in a four-run 19th over.

With 25 needed off the final over, Powell attempted a final onslaught with two sixes off Harshal Patel but the bowler held his nerve.

"You are always a bit scared when you are playing against these guys," skipper Rohit Sharma said after India's 100th T20 victory including Super over and bowl-out wins.

"But I am proud we executed our plans under pressure. It was very critical at that point when Bhuvneshwar bowled. That's where experience comes into play."

Man of the match Pant said: "I think Powell was hitting bullets out there."

"But at the back of the mind I was happy as well because he will be playing for (IPL side) Delhi Capitals."

Powell was bought by Delhi, led by Pant, for $375,000 in the weekend auction of the cash-rich Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament starting next month.

Off-spinner Roston Chase took three wickets after West Indies elected to bowl in skipper Kieron Pollard's 100th T20I but Pant's unbeaten 52 steered India to 186 for five.

The Indian batting wobbled after Kohli's 52 but Pant, who hit an unbeaten 52 off 28 balls, and Venkatesh Iyer put on 76 runs for the fifth wicket to boost the total.

- Kohli hits form -
Pace bowler Sheldon Cottrell got Ishan Kishan caught behind for two after the left-handed opener's struggle at the crease in a 10-ball stay.

Rohit and Kohli rebuilt the innings in their partnership of 49 with the former captain coming in all guns blazing with a string of boundaries.

Chase sent back Rohit for 19 and then caught and bowled Suryakumar Yadav for eight.

Kohli, who had scores of eight, 18 and nought in India's 3-0 ODI sweep of West Indies and then 17 in the opening T20 win, overcame a brief lull in his glittering career to smash his 30th T20I fifty.

He raised his 50 with a six off Chase, who finished with figures of 3-25, but was bowled two balls later after his 41-ball knock.

The left-handed batting pair of Pant and Iyer, who made 33 off 18 balls before being bowled by Romario Shepherd, then hit back to take the attack to the opposition.

The West Indies started cautiously in their chase and lost Kyle Mayers for nine, caught and bowled off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.

Pooran took on the bowlers with a few boundaries but soon opener Brandon King fell to Ravi Bishnoi's leg spin.

Pooran, who got a reprieve on 21 when Bishnoi dropped him at deep mid-wicket and went on to raise his second successive fifty with a six, put on 100 with Powell.

"It was a pretty decent innings, did the hard yards in the early part and tried to carry it home but it won't go down as a special innings because we didn't win," Powell, an attacking middle-order batsman, told reporters.

The final match is on Sunday at the same venue.