Cricket

Confident India Look to Seal T20I Series in Lucknow



Confident India Look to Seal T20I Series in Lucknow

Khaleel Ahmed celebrates after picking a wicket.







A little bit of fight here and there from Windies, but not sustained enough to beat India. That was the theme of the series in the Tests and One-Day Internationals.
That was also the case in the first Twenty20 International between the sides in Kolkata on Sunday.

The onus is now on Windies to change that trend in the second game on Tuesday in Lucknow if they are to keep the series alive.

For the first 20 overs of the game at Eden Gardens, it seemed like a complete mismatch. There was a bit of hype around the series given Windies are the holders of the World T20, but all that was quelled when they huffed and puffed to 109 for 8 in their innings. They were neither comfortable against pace nor against spin, with Kuldeep Yadav and debutant Krunal Pandya conceding just 28 runs from a combined eight overs for four wickets.

But for a little while after the innings break, it seemed like Windies would fight back. The big, fast Oshane Thomas breathed fire and had Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan within three overs. Carlos Brathwaite then chipped in, reducing India to 45 for 4 in the eighth over. With a middle-order that’s under pressure to hold their places, there was a glimmer of hope for Windies.

Those hopes vanished gradually as Dinesh Karthik showed maturity in a composed knock 31, which along with Krunal’s unbeaten 9-ball 21 guided India home. They’re now one win away from winning their 10th T20I series after the World T20 2016.

Windies suffered a blow ahead of the series when they lost Andre Russell. It proved costly, as they lacked firepower and stability in their innings with the bat. Shimron Hetmyer managed only 10, and Kieron Pollard struggled for a 26-ball 14. It wasn’t the best of comebacks for the big all-rounder after more than a year out of the Windies T20I side.

The middle-order had no clue against Kuldeep, who ran through the line-up for three wickets. They have only one day’s time to pick themselves up and put up a better effort. How they start will determine how they go against Kuleep and Krunal in the middle overs.

India will want better starts too. Rohit Sharma, the captain, had a rare off-day while Shikhar Dhawan too managed just three off eight. It was a great chance for the likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey to make statements but they couldn’t convert their starts. Rishabh Pant too didn’t get going, but they had the experienced hand of Karthik to ensure there wasn’t an embarrassing loss in the low-scorer.

India will be most pleased with the way their debutants performed. Krunal was at the forefront with ball and bat; he ended with figures of 4-0-15-1, bagging the wicket of his Mumbai Indians teammate Kieron Pollard. Krunal then had a cameo with the bat to take India through.

The other debutant in Khaleel Ahmed had a good game too, returning 1 for 16 from four overs, including a maiden. It’s unlikely India will change anything in the line-up till the series is sealed. All they’ll want to change from the previous game is their top-order’s performance. If the likes of Rahul, Pandey and Pant score big, they’ll have a few pointers for the future as well.

Windies, meanwhile, will have to turn things around quickly. They are the world champions in the format, but their form in T20Is since the last World T20 has been nothing short of dismal. They’ve won only nine of their 25 matches since then, with only two wins this year. They’ve got to change that trend soon if they want to be known as champions of T20s.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma(capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, K Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem

Windies: Carlos Brathwaite(capt), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas, Khary Pierre, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Nicholas Pooran




First Published: November 5, 2018, 4:33 PM IST