Kieron Pollard’s fine half century went in vain, as India defeated West Indies by 67 runs in the third and the final T20 International at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday. Pollard has played more games at the ground than any other Indian international bar Rohit Sharma, and his familiarity with the venue showed as he smashed six sixes and five fours in his 39 ball 68.
The visitors, fresh off a fine chase in Trivandrum, remained unchanged while India brought in Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav in place of Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal to strengthen their bowling. Pollard won the toss, and as he had done in the Kerala capital, opted to bowl first.
Here are our talking points from the game.
1. Evin Lewis suffers freak injury
Windies southpaw Evin Lewis suffered knee ligament damage while fielding on the boundary line in the 12th over and had to be stretchered off- a massive blow to the visitors ahead of their chase. Lewis can get things up and running quickly, as shown by his 40 (17) in Hyderabad, and his injury also robbed the West Indies of a left-right handed opening combination up front.
2. India’s openers lay foundation at the top
Perhaps wary of the Windies’ firepower and the reputation of the Wankhede as a batting friendly ground, India’s batsmen went hammer and tongs at the opposition bowlers. Even Rohit Sharma, who has the reputation of a player who takes his time to get going, teed off from the word go. Sharma hammered 71 (34) with KL Rahul smashing 91 off 56.
India’s 100 came in just the 8th over of the game, and there was barely a moment of respite for the hapless West Indies bowlers. Every one of them got carted around the park, and skipper Pollard went for 27 runs in his second over.
3. Kohli celebrates anniversary with quickfire 70
December 11 was also Kohli’s second wedding anniversary, and he seemed determined to mark the special occasion with a special knock. He smashed 70* (29) and ensured that the Men in Blue did not waste the good start that was given to them by Sharma and Rahul.
In Trivandrum, India hit only one six- at this venue, they smashed 16 of them, with Kohli himself contributing 7.
4. Pollard knock goes in vain
In their pursuit of 241, the West Indies got off to a horrendous start. Opening in place of the injured Lewis, Brandon King failed to get going and was dismissed by a slow ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Lendl Simmons, the hero of their Trivandrum chase, perished to comeback man Mohammed Shami, while danger man Nicholas Pooran was dismissed for a golden duck by Deepak Chahar.
Pollard, as mentioned before, tried his best, but in the absence of any support from the rest, the Windies were simply unable to keep pace with the required rate. The Pollard-Shimron Hetmyer partnership briefly threatened India, but once the latter fell to a Kuldeep full toss, the home side took full control of the game.
5. Mohammed Shami makes T20 return
He is probably India’s best test bowler- perhaps even the world’s best currently in that format in the eyes of many, but Mohammed Shami also remains a threat in the shortest format. His pace- the quickest of all the bowlers on show at the Wankhede, constantly troubled the Windies players. The dropped Hetmyer catch was a slight blemish, but figures of 2/25 in his 4 indicated that he had done his duty.
India’s pace attack for the T20 World Cup is very likely to be comprised of three among Chahar, Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. If the pitches don’t aid spin much, don’t count against them unleashing a fast bowling quartet Down Under next year.
Lokesh Rahul was declared the Man of the Match, while Virat Kohli was awarded the Man of the Series.
The focus now shifts to the ODI’s, where the first of the three games will be played at Chennai on December 15.