Rohit Sharma’s elegant half-century and Dinesh Karthik’s blazing finish were backed up by a solid bowling performance as India made short work of the West Indies with an easy 68-run win in Friday’s first T20I. While Rohit set up the platform with a 44-ball-64, it was Karthik’s calculated attack – an unbeaten 41 from 19 balls – that brought India to 190 for six after being put into bat. The last three overs of the Indian innings yielded 45 runs and that became the turning point.
On a track where there was spongy bounce with a little twist and grip, Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (2/22 in 4 overs), Ravindra Jadeja (1/26 in 4 overs) and Ravi Bishnoi (2/26 in 4 overs) got wickets at regular intervals to limit the hosts to 122 for eight in 20 overs.
Arshdeep Singh (2/24 in 4 overs) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/11 in 2 overs), despite some initial sticking, got their share of breakthroughs. Therefore, a substandard top-class show, except for Rohit, had no significant impact on India.
For coach Rahul Dravid, almost all the strategic changes in the playing XI seemed to work.
Suryakumar Yadav (24 from 16 balls) offered an interesting opener option, while the way Arshdeep tricked a raging Kyle Mayers with a short delivery spoke volumes about his temperament.
Ashwin and Bishnoi, both irregulars in the playing XI, were brilliant as the former showed his variations and the latter was happy to bowl some googlies that the opposing batters didn’t read on most occasions.
Rohit in his element
However, if one has to speak of the setup, it was skipper Rohit, who gave a glimpse of his vintage self with some breathtaking shots en route to his 27th half century.
The Indian captain who has endured a barren spell in the shortest form since the IPL has changed his game from the English T20s.
In the process, he reclaimed his position as the top goer (3443 runs) in T20Is from Martin Guptill (3399 runs).
His innings had seven fours and two sixs — a loft shot that danced across the court from Jason Holder and a short-arm pull from Alazarri Joseph.
There were also some ravishing boundaries – a back cut, a cover drive and an intentional slide over a short third-man to captivate a sizable Indian crowd in attendance at Brian Lara Stadium.
After Suryakumar Yadav was placed at the top of the rankings, he showed that coach Rahul Dravid is still looking at other options as Rohit’s opening partner, despite Rishabh Pant looking comfortable as an opener.
To be fair, Surya didn’t do too badly and he showed intent throughout his 16-ball 24, which included a jaw-dropping six — a twist of hips to send a soaring ball behind the square — in addition to three limits.
But as Surya attempted to knock left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein through the center of the wicket, all Surya managed to bring a thick outer edge to a short third man.
Much credit should go to Hosein, who was brought into the power play well and did a brilliant job with numbers from 1 to 14, including 14 dot balls.
It was Hosein, who didn’t let Rohit stall in that phase, while Shreyas Iyer (0), Pant (14 of 12 balls) and Hardik Pandya (1) didn’t get too much on the other side.
Karthik, the team’s designated finisher, justified his billing when 52 runs from the last four overs came in a seventh wicket stand with Ashwin (13 not out).
It was left to Karthik, the eternal ’20-ball man’, who crushed four fours and two sixes in a 360-degree view of the shooting.