After winning the toss against India at Eden Gardens in Kolkata today, West Indies white ball captain Kieron Pollard lamented that ‘the way we fielded in the second game is where we faltered—and bowling in the back end’.
Today in the third and final T20 match, Pollard’s Maroon Men ‘faltered … bowling at the back end’ again and fell to a third successive defeat, by 17 runs, in the T20 series and a 0-6 whitewash in the six-match tour.
WI looked in with a chance when the third-wicket partnership between in-form vice-captain Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell gave them a strong platform from which to overhaul the 186 they needed for a consolation victory. But the batsmen too faltered at the back end.
Batting first, the revamped India batting order could not produce the usual early pace, managing a modest 43 off the powerplay.
Then, bowling unchanged from the last over of the powerplay to over number 13, the West Indies spinners, Roston Chase (4-0-23-1) and Hayden Walsh Jr, (4-0-30-1) one of four changes to the line-up, had their best day yet. They kept India’s middle order to 90 for 3 at that stage.
Jason Holder had Ruturaj Gaikwad caught at third man by Kyle Mayers and then caught Shreyas Iyer off Walsh’s bowling before the water break. When Chase bowled Ishan Kishan (34 off 31) with half the overs gone, Pollard might have been thinking that his team would belatedly give him the gift of a win to celebrate the landmark of having reached 100 T20Is for the West Indies in Friday’s Game 2.
But nobody sent the memo to the India middle order, which was without the rested Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant.
Man-of-the-Match—and Player-of-the-Series—Suryakumar Yadav (65 off 31) and Venkatesh Iyer (35* off 21) whacked the bowling to all parts of the ground. From 98 for 4 at the end of the 15th over, Yadav and Iyer took the game completely away from Pollard’s men, posting 91 off only 37 balls.
Together, they put on 86 off the last five overs and 69 off the last four, the second highest tally ever for India. Between them, the Indian numbers five and six struck nine sixes and five fours and completely destroyed whatever psychological advantage WI might have enjoyed when they sent back the top four with under 100 runs on the board.
Holder conceded 10 in his only late-innings over but Dominic Drakes and Romario Shepherd each leaked 38 runs in their two overs apiece in the last five.
Had Shepherd somehow bowled a maiden instead of the 21 runs he shipped in over #20, the eventual 167 for 9 WI posted would have been a winning score. And if the bowlers had had any control at all in the last five overs, when Powell’s innings ended at 73 for 3, the West Indies would have been more than halfway to their target.
Motoring, Pooran (61 off 47, 8 x 4, 1 x 6) and Powell (25 off 14, 2 x 4, 2 x 6) got their team to 68 by the end of the powerplay, a full 25 runs better than the Indian tally at that stage.
Shai Hope (8), in for Brandon King, had struck two boundaries before following Mayers (6) back to the pavilion. Both were caught at the wicket by Kishan off Deepak Chahar.
Coming together at 26 for 2, Pooran and Powell rapidly took their third-wicket partnership to just short of 50 off a mere 25 balls. But Shardul Thakur took a good catch down at fine-leg off Harshal Patel to dismiss Powell and Pollard (5), Holder (2) and Chase (12) could build nothing nearly similar with Pooran.
However, the left-hander eventually found an able partner in Romario Shepherd, presumably eager to make reparations for his wayward bowling. Chancing their hand and riding their luck, the pair stayed together all the way to the end of the 15th over.
Exactly 60 were needed off 30 balls, the required run-rate still a manageable 12.
New boy Avesh Khan kept the damage down to nine runs in over #16 before Shepherd smashed a six off the last ball of Patel’s penultimate over, #17, to make it 37 needed off 18 balls.
But, like in Friday’s Game 2, Pooran succumbed as much to scoreboard pressure as to anything else, skying a high catch to wicketkeeper Kishan in trying to force Thakur over the leg-side. His 61 was this third successive half-century of the series—all in vain.
Neither Fabian Allen, who replaced Akeal Hosein in the line-up, nor Dominic Drakes was able to reproduce the devastating finishing form WI fans have memorably seen from them in the CPL. And the last two overs yielded a mere 13 more runs—and Shepherd’s and Drakes’ wickets, both well caught on the offside by Rohit.
Winning captain Rohit focused on the positives.
“Good signs for us as a group,” he said. “The biggest takeaway in the ODI series was the middle-order batting and making it count. I was [also] very impressed with our seam bowling. […] It was a good challenge for us to defend in both games, and we did well.”
As usual, Pollard praised those who had performed well. But essentially, he was left to rue what might have been, saying that ‘we had the experience but didn’t get the job done’.
“We were in the game until the 15th over. We got a good start—70-odd after seven or eight overs and we weren’t able to capitalise. In this T20 series, Nicholas showed his consistency. Rovman Powell [is] showing that he wants to be a part and parcel of the white-ball team.”
And he turned his gaze not backward but forward:
“With the World Cup eight months away, the more cricket these guys play, the better they are going to get.”
He might have thought it but he did not say, “we hope.”
Toss: West Indies
India: 184 for 5 (20 overs) (Suryakumar Yadav 65, Venkatesh Iyer 35*, Ishan Kishan 34, Shreyas Iyer 25; Roston Chase 1/23; Jason Holder 1/29, Hayden Walsh 1/30)
West Indies: 167 for 9 (20 overs) (Nicholas Pooran 61, Romario Shepherd 29, Rovman Powell 25, Harshal Patel 3/22, Deepak Chahar 2/15, Venkatesh Iyer 2/23, Shardul Thakur 2/33)
Man-of-the-Match: Suryakumar Yadav
Man-of-the-Series: Suryakumar Yadav
Result: India win by 17 runs
India win the three-match series 3-0
Our problem are those dot balls that we soak up, especially in the middle overs. The problem is that, once the power-play ends (the field is then spread, which makes hitting balls in the air more risky), the skill level of the batters and their ability to manipulate the field becomes a factor.
This is the phase of the game where we fall apart/fall behind when chasing down scores. Once those opportunities to hit sixes dry up, our players begin looking quite ordinary.