India overcome early jitters to take series lead

Oshane Thomas threatened for a brief period. As a result, Windies threatened for a brief period. India kept losing wickets at regular intervals during the chase of 110 but there was simply not enough on the board for the Windies to entertain hopes of an upset in the opening T20I in Kolkata on Sunday (November 4).

There was enough spice in the wicket to keep the seamers interested for most parts of the game. Umesh Yadav, a late inclusion in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, posed questions in the very first over of the game with movement off the surface. It resulted in Denesh Ramdin edging one to the wicketkeeper after two overs and from thereon, Windies never recovered. A catastrophic run out resulted in the in-form batsman Shai Hope departing without making an impact and the dazzling Shimron Hetmyer fell while trying to pull Jasprit Bumrah out of Eden.

Losing three wickets in the powerplay, the onus was on Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo to rescue the innings with the former looking determined early on to bat through the innings. Batting on 5 off 17 at one point, he broke the shackles by smashing debutant Krunal Pandya for a six before falling while attempting the same shot off the same bowler two overs later. Kuldeep Yadav then ran through the middle order, getting rid of Bravo, Rovman Powell and Carlos Brathwaite in quick succession to reduce Windies to 63 for 7.

The local crowd had been clearly silenced at one point following the meek surrender of a side that enthralled them two years ago to clinch the World T20 title and if not for some useful boundaries at the death, Windies wouldn’t have crossed 100. Thomas then made the most of the conditions by breathing fire in the powerplay to try and make a contest out of this.

Rohit Sharma fell inside-edging one to the ‘keeper while Shikhar Dhawan saw his stumps rearranged for the third time by the same bowler on this tour. Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul also perished while attempting to take on the medium pace of Brathwaite to leave India dangling at 45 for 4. Windies then made the right call to bring back Thomas for his final over but once the Indian batsmen came out unscathed against the young pacer, the hosts slowly regained control.

Pollard bowled freebies to Karthik which helped India relieve the pressure and take control. Despite losing Manish Pandey towards the end, Krunal’s busy little cameo and Karthik’s calm presence ensured the win was completed with ease.

Brief scores: Windies 109/8 in 20 overs (Fabian Allen 27; Kuldeep Yadav 3-13, Krunal Pandya 1-15) lost to India 110/5 in 17.5 overs (Dinesh Karthik 31*, Krunal Pandya 21*; Carlos Brathwaite 2-11, Oshane Thomas 2-21) by 5 wickets.

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