By WIPA Staff
The West Indies, 2016 World T20 Champions, for the first time faced India on US soil in two T20 Internationals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, August 27 & 28. To say that the anticipation for the match-up was ‘high’ would be an understatement. From the ICC and the WICB to the BCCI, from the media houses to the fans, from India to the Caribbean, everyone awaited the stellar showdown. And what a showdown it was! The games were set against the backdrop of the West Indies’ glorious hold on the WT20 title, after defeating hosts, – and favorites, India in the semis. The questions in our mind surrounded who would get the edge in this ‘rematch’ of sorts, Gayle or Kholi, Badree or Ashwin, new kid on the block and WT20 hero promoted to captain, Carlos ‘Ricky’ Brathwaite, or his more seasoned counterpart Mahendra Singh Dohni.
The first match got underway on Saturday at 10 am local time. The Windies got off to a cracking start; and one would expect that to be the case given the line up, with good batting and serious power hitting all the way down to number 9. It pretty much continued to be a blinder for most of the innings. Johnson Charles brought up a superb half century off 20 balls and went on to 79 (33). Charles’ hundred-partnership with young Evin Lewis was up in the 8th over. It was a serious onslaught. Lewis was not going to be left out of the party, and powered his way to 50 off 25 deliveries and then made his maiden T20I century off 49 balls. India didn’t seem to have any solutions for at least 15 overs. In the end, WI made the third highest T20 International total on record, 245-6. They also hit a record 21 sixes in their innings, curtailed in the last 5 overs by some smart bowling from Bumrah, and a bit of sketchy batting. However, the damage was already done, that total meant that India would have to bat out of their skins for a win, and we wondered what they were thinking heading to the dressing room.
However, India made their intentions quite clear when they got to the crease, and
raced to 67 off 6 overs, but not before loosing two wickets, including that of Virat Kohli. That wasn’t much consolation for the Windies though, as Rohit and Rahul went on the attack, Rohit smashing his way to 62 (38). At the 15th over, India were very much in it at 182-3. It was turning out to be quite the game. Dhoni indicated that he also came to play, striking at over 200. The spectators were in for a treat and the West Indies were in serious trouble. KL Rahul brought up his own fantastic century off 48 deliveries. It seemed to be a case of ‘anything Lewis can do, I can do better’. After superb bowling from Bravo in the 18th, Russell was given the penultimate over with India needing 24 runs. Surely India would win it comfortably from here, it had been a brilliant run chase, India had been matching guns with the Windies… And then there was Bravo. With some excellent depth bowling, defending only 8 runs, Bravo brought the game down to India needing 2 runs to win off the last ball. DJ took his own time setting his field, had a chat, and ran in to bowl to Dhoni. signature slower ball, Dhoni hits it into the air to short third man, Samuels is right there, got him! West Indies wins!
An absolutely breathtaking game paved the way for Game 2.
Again, the West Indies were asked to set a total, and subsequently begun with the same line up – and the same mindset – as game one. Yet, it was evident India had spent the night formulating a carefully calculated bowling plan and were executing it well. Lewis was first to go for 7 and then Charles for 43. At the 5th over West Indies were 50-2, but by the 10th they were 76-4. It had become clear to the big hitters that there was some grip and the ball wasn’t quite coming on to the bat the same way, as the sixth wicket fell for 98 in the 12th. Other than the obvious help from the wicket, clearly India had assessed the previous match and were adapting well. Mishra who was brought in for this match did not plan on letting his skipper down. His 3-24, alongside Ashwin’s 2-11, saw the West Indies innings ending on a woefully short 143.
The only hope for the Windies was that their own spinners who were hammered the
day before would have a chance to redeem themselves on this somewhat slower, gripping pitch. Unfortunately, or fortunately, rain affected play and the match was called off only two overs into India’s run chase. The West Indies were awarded the Paytm trophy, winning the series 1-0 by virtue of the 1-run-win in the 1st game. Though an anti-climatic end, the thrill of Saturday’s match won’t soon be forgotten. The fans certainly look forward to the Windies continuing their winning ways in this format. It certainly was a stellar blockbuster, with that last over win from the Windies awfully reminiscent of their WT20 feat.