Evin Lewis is not a name that’s too unfamiliar to the Indians. Especially in the T20 format. The left-hander had smashed a 48-ball hundred in Lauderhill last year. This time, he was a tad slower (53 balls), but equally effective as he smashed a second T20I hundred to help Windies chase down India’s 190 for 6 with nine wickets and 1.3 overs to spare. Lewis ended unbeaten on 125 (62 balls), while Marlon Samuels chipped in with 36 off 29 as the hosts made a 191 chase seem like it was a ride in the park.
The carnage all started in the fourth over when Mohammed Shami tossed the ball. Chris Gayle, batting in front of his homecrowd, slammed the ball past the bowlers head to make his intentions known, but it was Lewis who batted like he had a time bomb in his pocket.
He smashed Shami for three back-to-back fours to give the chase its impetus. With a start under his belt, Lewis outshone T20 cricket’s greatest batsman at the other end with ease. He smashed Ashwin for successive sixes in the next over, before hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a six and four. By the end of the powerplay, West Indies had racked up 66 for no loss, but Lewis showed no signs of letting up.
Kuldeep Yadav’s first ball in T20Is was a humongous six wide of long on. Lewis’s unafraid approach left the Indians rattled, and they seemed to be bowling to him hoping he made a mistake. Lewis did make two of them, but Shami and Dinesh Karthik put down skiers to give the opener reprieves. In fact, India’s efforts on the field left a lot to be desired. The usually reliable MS Dhoni missed a couple of stumping chances, that earlier you’d have bet your house he’d effect.
Lewis slowed down a tad after Gayle was out for 18 off 20 balls to Kuldeep, but once that phase was ridden over, Lewis was back to his boundary smashing best. Shami was taken to the cleaners again, this time by Marlon Samuels, while Lewis whacked two sixes off Jadeja before taking the single that brought up his second T20I hundred.
At that time, Windies still needed 42 off 30 balls, but with nine wickets in hand, it was never going to be a problem. To emphasise that point, Lewis finished the game off with a towering six off Jadeja in the penultimate over.
Earlier, India threw away a brilliant platform set by their openers, but recovered somewhat to post a challenging total.
Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan dealt in boundaries for most part of the powerplay as India raced along at more than 10 an over for the first 10 overs. Windies’s spinners were guilty of bowling short to both batsmen, and they took full toll, pulling and cutting the ball to the fence. India had already gone past 60 runs by the time the powerplay was done, but Kohli’s plan to capitalise fully on the three balls remaining cost India.
He miscued a swipe to mid on for 39 off 22, and two balls later, Dhawan was run out for 23 off 12. That double blow put a dent in India’s progress.
Rishabh Pant was only two T20Is old, and needed time to settle in. Dinesh Karthik ensured there was no pressure on the youngster by doing the bulk of the scoring. The duo put up 50 runs off 38 balls, to keep India in the hunt for a total in excess of 200. With around eight overs to go, such a total looked very much possible, but Jerome Taylor had other plans.
Taylor had endured a tough start, but recovered well enough at the end, landing yorkers and getting key wickets to leave India tottering. Karthik (48), Dhoni (2) and Pant (38) all fell in the space of seven balls, cutting India’s hopes of a fiery finish. In the end, it needed a big last over, one that was worth 18, as India notched up 190 for 6. Evin Lewis made it look at least 30-40 runs short.
Brief Scores – India 190/6 (Dinesh Karthik 48, Virat Kohli 39, Jerome Taylor 2-39) lost to Windies 194/1 (Evin Lewis 125*, Marlon Samuels 36*) by nine wickets