Skipper Virat Kohli and wicket keeper Rishabh Pant both scored fluent half centuries as India completed a 3-0 sweep against the West Indies in Guyana on Tuesday.
A change in venue to the Providence stadium- the first two games had been played in Florida, didn’t bring about any change in the Windies’ fortunes as the visitors coasted home by seven wickets.
With the series having been sealed, India chose to give an opportunity to some of their fringe players. In came KL Rahul, Deepak Chahar and his cousin Rahul (the latter on debut) and out went Rohit Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed and Ravindra Jadeja. The West Indies made one solitary injury-enforced change, with Fabian Allen replacing Khairy Pierre in their XI.
Kohli won the toss for the third time in a row and opted to send the West Indies in under overcast conditions. His decision was vindicated by Deepak, who sent back Sunil Narine, Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer back in quick succession to leave the home side reeling at 14/3.
Narine fell to a fantastic catch at mid on by Navdeep Saini while Lewis and Hetmyer were both dismissed LBW by the ball coming in.
Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran then set about repairing the damage adding 67 runs for the fourth wicket. Just as Pooran appeared to be getting into his stride, he edged a Saini delivery to Pant.
Pollard was in fine form, hitting six sixes as he scored his first T20 international half century in seven years. His innings was also brought to an end by Saini, who deceived the all-rounder with a fine slower delivery that sent the latter’s middle stump flying.
Deepak’s younger cousin Rahul then claimed his maiden international wicket as he got opposition skipper Carlos Brathwaite to hole out to Washington Sundar at long on.
Rovman Powell gave some the innings much needed impetus at the back end, hitting Saini for two sixes in the 20th to help them finish with 146/6 in their allotted 20 overs- WI’s best total with the bat in this series.
Deepak was India’s best bowler as he finished with stunning figures of 3/4 in his 3 overs.
Chasing a target of 147, the visitors lost Shikhar Dhawan early, as he was caught at short fine leg by Sheldon Cottrell off Oshane Thomas.
Lokesh Rahul, opening the innings in place of the rested Rohit, scored 20 off 18 balls before being stumped by Pooran off Fabian Allen.
The Windies appeared to very much in the game at the half way stage, with India still needing over 8 an over. However the fifth bowler has been problematic for them in this series, and it was again an issue today. Braithwaite and Keemo Paul together conceded close to 50 runs in their four odd overs, and it allowed India to regain control of the game.
Kohli took it upon himself to guide India’s chase and found an able ally in Pant, who appeared to adopt a more pragmatic approach in comparison to how he had played in the opening two fixtures.
The duo put on a valuable 106 run stand for the third wicket before Kohli slashed a Thomas delivery to Evin Lewis at point.
Pant scored four sixes in his unbeaten 65, and finished the game off in style by smashing Braithwaite over the ropes. The Men in Blue thus won the match by 7 wickets and 5 balls to spare.
Deepak Chahar was declared the Man of the Match for his brilliant opening spell, while Krunal Pandya was declared the Player of the Series.
The focus now shifts to the three ODI’s, with the first one to be played at this very venue on 8 August.