Call it amazing. Call it exciting. Call it whatever you like. The 2nd T20 match between India and West Indies was a true nail-biter. Till the very last over, the match was completely balanced. Anything could have happened, and it did. India dominated, then was dominated, then again dominated, and so on. A smile of satisfaction was witnessed before millions of TV sets as Indians welcomed their weekend in style. Getting back to our usual banter, let’s focus on five points that turned the game’s flow.
5. Slow start from both the teams
T20 is a fast-paced game. You can’t waste a single ball. Whichever team plays slowly can’t capitalize when the opportunity arrives. This fact was evident in the match as both India and West Indies couldn’t get going. Both the opening pairs struggled to find the rhythm as Power-play wasn’t powerful at all. It was the middle-order that carried out a rescue mission for both sides. Ishan Kishan’s struggle was clear as crystal. Ishan couldn’t time the ball at all was clearly at the misery when Mayers caught a badly-timed shot from him. Mayers also had his moment of shame when Chahal caught an easy miss-flick from him. Brandon King and Rohit Sharma got stable starts but failed to get going.
4. Virat Kohli’s solid rescue effort
Pestered by media, doubted by fans, and criticized busy some ‘pun-dits’, Virat Kohli might have entered this match in the worst frame of mind. Earlier, Rohit Sharma said in an interview that the media should leave Virat Kohli alone. Any other player might have struggled to play under such conditions. But guess what? Virat Kohli isn’t your average cricketer. History is the evidence that champions pave their paths from the point where the others give up.
Virat Kohli stood tall and fought back against a fierce Windies attack. His knock of 52 was a statement to all who have questioned this modern-day great. Virat’s knock was laden with 7 fours and a six, but the selling point of his knock was that he showed his intent in almost all of his shots. Kohli looked threatening when he was on the crease, starting aggressively and then mellowing down to stitch a partnership. A Classic Virat Kohli knock allowed India to build a platform for Pant and Iyer to flourish in the death.
3. Pant and Iyer’s pyrotechnics at death
What good an action movie without a thrilling climax. Ask MS Dhoni how important the art of finishing is. So is Rohit Sharma’s priority at the moment. Rohit Sharma has countless times said how vital are the death overs and the importance of sloggers in these pressuring moments, and he would be more than happy to see his plan falling into action. Rishabh Pant and Venkatesh Iyer made a raid at Windies bowling. Pant and Iyer kept hitting the ball as their lives depended on it.
Pant and Iyer together made 76 runs in 37 balls and made a pure mockery of Romario Shepherd and Jason Holder. This partnership helped India post a competitive total of 186. Both played at a strike rate above 180 and dealt their strokes with both aggression and composure. While Venkatesh Iyer didn’t do anything different, Pant surprised many by his improved shot selection. Rahul Dravid takes full credit for this fantastic knock by the Delhi lad.
2. Pooran and Powell’s frightening counter-attack
A common trend in action-thrillers, a balanced fight between both sides is the key to a blockbuster hit. Cricket seems to follow the film industry in this regard. What good would have been the match after we saw India dashing their way to 186? West Indies blasting their way in a spectacular run-chase. After a disappointing start from the Caribbean side, Pooran and Powell took it upon themselves to trouble India.
Showing brilliant teamwork, the Windies #3 and #4 stitched together a dynamic 100 runs fight-back in just 60 balls. Pooran started strongly and settled down as Powell arrived. Powell lived his entire knock in the adventure as he gave Indian fielders a good couple of chances, which the hosts dropped. This staged an epic come-back that could have levelled the T20 series.
1. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and his game-changing penultimate over
Defending 29 needed off 12 balls against two settled, and big-hitting West Indians were never going to be easy. More so, when you are given the penultimate over, which could make or break the match. But the sheer beauty with which Bhuvneshwar Kumar executed the 19th over, giving away just 4 runs while picking the prized wicket of Nicholas Pooran. Not many are able to pull off such miracles. Winning the match by just 8 runs, Bhuvi’s 19th over stood as the difference between both sides. Executing inch-perfect yorkers and weird bouncers, Bhuvi troubled both the set batsman and made them restless. If not anything else, ‘that’ over proved the cricketing world why he is among the best bowlers in T20 cricket.
Indians are such a tease, taking matches this deep should be banned as they are seriously dangerous for our excited hearts. This tension is becoming infectious. Anything else seems too mild for us. Pocketing both the ODI and T20 series, India would look forward to letting their reserves rack up some valuable experience while resting a few over-worked key players. Anyways, the 3rd T20I would be worth watching as West Indians aren’t fans of licking their wounds and would definitely look for ravishing revenge.