West Indies have been a force to reckon when it comes to Twenty20 cricket. It wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the Caribbean side rule this format. They lost the One-Day International (ODI) series by 3-1 but bounced back emphatically in the format of uncertainties. It takes a lot to overcome such a disheartening defeat and come out hard against the same side and West Indies did in style.
West Indies lived up to the reputations and obliterated India in the one-off Twenty20 International (T20I) as they won the high-voltage encounter by nine wickets. They are the World Champions in this format and this outing against India was just another testament to it. They have a dominating squad and players who know the ingredients to success in this format. They may not be inspiring confidence in whites, their fortunes may have oscillated between occasional sparks of brilliance and mediocrity but T20 is a different ball game altogether. A format, which is tailor-made for them.
West Indies Indies won the toss and elected to field first, they backed their batting against the formidable bowling attack of India. India were off to a flying start with Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan firing with all the guns. Dinesh Karthik too played well but India didn’t manage to garner runs at a brisk rate in the middle overs and a fumble in the death overs didn’t let India put up a gigantic total. They had just 190 runs on the board and were certainly 20 odd runs short after the kind of start they got. India were 64 for no loss in 5.2 deliveries and a total of 210 or above looked reasonable. They managed to get just 126 runs from next 88 deliveries and lost six wickets in the course.
India failed to get an impetus in the death overs and were in dire need of a cameo from someone. West Indies had the firepower to gun the total down, on a surface, which was conducive for batting. Chris Gayle was back into the side and opened the batting alongside Evin Lewis.
India needed early wickets in order to put any pressure on the West Indies as they bat deep. There was not much assistance for the bowlers and Lewis was astute enough to bid his time at the crease. Gayle pounced on deliveries pitched in his zone but didn’t manage to convert his good start into a big score. But, there wasn’t any pressure as Lewis kept scoring heavily at the other end.
When a batsman is on a roll at one end, the pressure is automatically eased off as long as the required run-rate is under check. West Indies never looked in any kind of trouble, such was the impact of Lewis’ innnigs at the other end. He took on Indian bowlers with immense confidence and didn’t stop after he starting middling the ball. They got a move on in the fourth over, where Lewis milked 19 runs off Mohammed Shami’s first over.
Lewis had just seven runs from first 10 deliveries but scored 46 runs from the next 14. He brought up his fifty in 24 deliveries, which was also his fastest, and a solid foundation for the run-chase was laid. Gayle was dismissed for 18 when West Indies were placed at 82 inside nine overs, but Lewis remained unaffected by his dismissal. He continued his onslaught and didn’t show any mercy whatsoever.
When Lewis ran a single on the fifth delivery off the 15th over, the West Indies dug-out stood up in elation and acknowledged southpaw’s second T20I ton. Chris Gayle, who is widely reckoned as T20 giant, applauded Lewis’ outing.
Lewis didn’t stop there, he was hungry for more. He went on to record the highest T20I score by a West Indies batsmen when he ran another single to move to 119. Marlon Samuels took his time and did well in rotating the strike to ensure a comprehensive win. Lewis remained unbeaten on 125 off 62 deliveries and carried the team over the line; this is also the highest score in T20I run-chase.
Lewis boasts off an incredible and mind-boggling record of smashing more sixes than boundaries in T20Is. And this innings was no different. Lewis smashed 12 sixes and half a dozen boundaries in this outing. He is now the only third T20I batsman to have scored two centuries in this format after Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum. Interestingly, Lewis scored both his tons against India.
Catches win matches, but India dropped Evin Lewis on a couple of occasions and the southpaw made utmost use of it by smashing his second ton in T20 cricket. Well, fortune favoured the brave Lewis.
Although India squandered a couple of golden opportunities to get rid of the hard-hitting Evin Lewis, but some more runs on the board would have kept West Indies under pressure. And who knows, a slightly bigger target could have compelled him to take more risks and give India another chance? Also, India have been a good fielding side but were rather slack on this occasion.
At first, MS Dhoni missed the stumping of Gayle in the very second over. Moments later, Gayle survived another run-out as the fielder at short square leg missed to hit the stump. And then the two expensive catches of Lewis. The match would have certainly got interesting had India cupped both the catches and put pressure on West Indies.