Men in Blue falter at final hurdle as hosts win the T20I series in Florida


West Indies cricket player Shimron Hetmyer bats a shot during the 4th T20I match against India, at Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium of Lauderhill city in Florida on Saturday (ANI)

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Lauderhill City (Florida)

India’s multi-format tour of the Caribbean and the USA ended with a T20I series defeat to West Indies, with their lack of lower-order batting muscle and a lacklustre bowling show playing a part in Sunday’s result in Florida. But let that not take any credit away from Nicholas Pooran and Brandon King, the architects of a superbly constructed chase.

The pair put on 107 off 72 balls for the second wicket and didn’t allow India a foot in the door. What seemed like it might be a challenging chase at the outset turned into a stroll, West Indies eventually getting home with 12 balls to spare to record their second straight T20I series win and their first against India since 2017.

West Indies lost Kyle Mayers in the second over to Arshdeep Singh, but it only spurred them to go even harder in drizzly conditions that forced the teams to have one eye on the DLS sheet.

Pooran continued to enjoy a charmed life when a small spike on Snickometer – the thinnest of edges off the glove attempting a slog sweep – helped overturn an lbw decision off Kuldeep Yadav in the fifth over. But around all this, there was a display of sensational hitting – clean and uninhibited – to throw India’s bowlers completely off the rails.

India’s decision to play six bowlers (Hardik included), which brings with it the inherent risk of their batting tapering off quickly down the order, was specifically designed it seemed to counter situations such as this. The only bowler to rein in the batters somewhat was Kuldeep Yadav, who varied his pace and lengths nicely.

In the previous two games, Pooran was out trying to take Kuldeep on. Today, Pooran was intent on learning from that and milked singles off Kuldeep, whose first three overs went for just 16.

India win 4th game easily

India sealed off a comfortable 9-wicket victory for the visitors to level the five-match T20I series against West Indies on 2-2 at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground on Saturday.

Shubman Gill and Yashasvi Jaiswal impressed with the bat in the fourth T20I as they stitched up a 165-run partnership to keep the WI bowlers at bay.

While chasing a target of 179, Gill and Jaiswal provided India with the ideal start.

Jaiswal managed to put past his nightmarish debut where he got out for 1(2). On the other hand, Gill who has struggled throughout the white ball series once again had a slow start to the game.

Jaiswal began his innings by finding the boundary on the very first ball of the second innings. On the other end, Gill took his time to settle on the pitch.

Once he understood the variations that were up for the offer, Gill didn’t waste a moment to get his innings going.

Gill kicked off the boundary fest with a maximum off Obed McCoy in the fourth over. Jaiswal followed up with two consecutive boundaries in the next over to set the momentum for the final over of the powerplay.

In the next over Gill struck two maximums and a four off Odean Smith to end the powerplay with a score of  66-0.

After the end of the powerplay, there was no stopping the young talented opening duo. They took on the WI bowlers and maintained a healthy run rate. ‘

The hosts struggled to pick up the correct line and length which further added to their miseries. India took full control of the game during the halfway point of the second innings. They reached the 100 run-mark without losing a single wicket.

Yashavi brought up his maiden T20I half-century in the next over, while Gill completed his 50 two balls prior with a double.

The onslaught of both batters continued till the 16th over. Gill lost his wicket for 77 off 47 balls as he made a failed attempt to clear the boundary. Romario Shepherd claimed the first wicket of the match for the hosts but the damage was already done.

Youngster Tilak Varma stepped on the pitch to see off the game and level the T20I series (2-2).

Earlier in the innings, Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer’s blistering knocks of 45 and 61 respectively drove WI’s total to a competitive total of 178-8. 

“Wanted to capitalise on a batting-friendly wicket”: Gill

Indian batter Shubman Gill said that he was aiming to go big in the powerplay and the first half of India’s run-chase of 179 against West Indies in the fourth T20I after failing to touch double digits in first three matches.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) posted a video of an interaction between Gill, who scored 77 and Arshdeep Singh, who took three wickets and played a crucial role in India’s win.

“In the first three matches, I could not score even 10 runs. Now, I had finally got a nice wicket to bat on and wanted to capitalise on it. Once I was able to get a good start, it was about doing well in the powerplay and initial stages and deciding the result of the match then and there,” said Gill in the video.

Gill has battled an inconsistent run of form in T20Is. He has scored 295 runs in three matches at an average of 32.77, but it has been boosted by scores of 126*, 77 and 46 in three innings.

On his lean patch, Gill commented, “You try to identify your mistakes. In my first three matches here, I was not making any. But I just could not convert my starts into something bigger. T20Is are a format where you look for runs and play nice shots, but sometimes, it goes into the hands of fielders. At this time, you should think about the template that helped you score runs and go back to it.”

Gill said that he felt nice coming here in Florida, for the first time ever and enjoyed the fan support.

Surya, Tilak clinch win over WI

Surykumar Yadav’s vintage performance with bat and Tilak Varma’s unbridled 49* kept India in the thick of the action as the Men in Blue clinched victory in the third ODI by 7 wickets at the Providence Stadium on Tuesday.

This was the first victory for India in the five match T20I series which West Indies won 3-2.

Surya’s blistering 83 off 44 balls laid the foundation for India’s chase of 160, while India skipper Hardik Pandya added the icing on the cake by finishing the game in style with a maximum.

While chasing a target of 160, the hosts dealt India a major blow as debutant Yashasvi Jaiswal was removed from the pitch with a score of 1(2) by Obed McCoy. A miscue from Jaiswal launched the ball high in the air which landed straight into the hands of Alzarri Joseph at mid-on.

Struggling Shubman Gill, who is yearning hard to find his form failed once again to deliver with his bat in unfamiliar conditions. The fifth over ensured Gill’s struggle with the bat continued. Alzarri Joseph got better of Gill with a short length delivery. A loud groan from Gill told the entire story.

Surya and Tilak drove India’s innings from that point and stitched up an 87-run stand. Surya failed to see off the game for the visitors but skipper Hardik’s short cameo brought the series to 2-1.

Earlier in the innings, Kuldeep bagged three wickets while Axar Patel and Mukesh Kumar scalped one wicket each. For West Indies, Brandon King scored the highest with 42 off 42 deliveries while Rovman Powell played a crucial knock of unbeaten 40 runs in 19 balls.

Opting to bat first, West Indies got off to a fine start as their openers Kyle Mayers and Brandon King kept piling runs at regular intervals against Indian bowlers.

However, Axar Patel’s spin proved to be too good for Mayers as the batter was dismissed for 25 runs in the 8th over of the game. The right-handed batter Johnson Charles then came out to bat.

Kuldeep Yadav then started to spin his web around the West Indies batter as he dismissed Charles for 14 runs. The left-handed batter Nicholas Pooran then came out to bat at the crease.

Pooran in blazing form hammered Kuldeep for 13 runs with the help of four and six runs.

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