The West Indies cricket team ended a white-ball losing streak that spanned seven matches across three series today in St Kitts, as a historic bowling spell by Obed McCoy and a personal best with the bat by Brandon King saw them down India by five wickets in their second T20 International of the Goldmedal T20Cup.
It was nervy towards the end, as the Maroon Men had a few stumbles chasing a gettable total of 139 runs. But two crucial boundaries from veteran wicketkeeper Devon Thomas helped the hosts to creep home with just four balls remaining.
The two nations meet again tomorrow from 10.30am at the same venue, before they head to Florida for the final two T20I of the series.
“I can finally breathe now,” said West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran. “It has been a tough summer, we have lost a couple of close games. Happy to cross the line.”
West Indies and India faced each other in 10 limited overs contests in 2022 before today—six One-Day Internationals and four T20I. India won them all.
But from the first ball today, West Indies looked to be in charge. Literally.
McCoy, the left-handed pacer from St Vincent and the Grenadines, found the edge of India captain and opener Rohit Sharma with the first delivery of the innings. And, with the first ball of his second over, McCoy had Suryakumar Yadav caught behind by wicketkeeper Devon Thomas.
India were 17/2.
“[The early wickets] put a lot of pressure on their batters,” said McCoy. “I always look for wickets in the powerplay because that stops batsmen from scoring runs in the powerplay.”
The visitors could be forgiven for having a frustrating time in St Kitts so far. The late arrival of their luggage from Trinidad meant they did not train yesterday while today’s T20I affair was delayed as well.
India’s batsmen put on a brave face, as if convinced in their own ability to prove McCoy wrong and tame West Indies’ bowlers with the willow. But the wickets kept falling, as the likes of Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja got starts only to be turfed out before they could get going.
Spinner Akeal Hosein and pacer Jason Holder did their bit while Alzarri Joseph drowned the gifted Shreyas Iyer in honey, with a ball wide of off stump that proved to be too fast for him.
But, invariably, it was McCoy who did the damage with a remarkable spell that produced figures of 6/17—unprecedented for a West Indies bowler in this format.
“I want to thank God,” said McCoy. “I’m doing this for my mom, she is home sick.”
Mama McCoy was not alone in feeling under the weather, for sure. Sharma was not pleased and is not the sort to hide it.
“It was not enough runs on the board for us,” said Sharma. “We didn’t bat well. The pitch was playing quite nicely but we didn’t apply ourselves—but that can happen. I have said again and again that when you are trying something as a batting group, it won’t work out always. We will try to see our mistakes and look to correct them.”
Bowled out for 138 from 19.4 overs, West Indies were in the driver’s seat at last. But then that only means a different sort of pressure.
Sharma’s Indians don’t give anything away. You still have to take it.
Make way for the King then. The elegant Jamaican opener has a career average of 24.72 in this format, but, in 2022, his average is a more respectable 32.58.
Thankfully, King gave the India bowlers a taste of his more recent vintage. And, like McCoy, he got going early with a smash to the boundary off the first ball by Bhuvenshwar Kumar.
Eleven overs later, King was still there—and he worked a single off Ravichandran Ashwin to bring up his half century off 39 balls. West Indies were 82/2 at the time, with 57 runs needed from 48 balls.
Having lost the company of Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, though, King decided to accelerate matters—only to prompt his own demise. He was bowled by Avesh Khan for 68 (from 52 balls, 8×4, 2×6), immediately after hitting the pacer for six.
“King batted really well [and I] thought he should win the game for us,” said Pooran, “but he will learn from this.”
Rovman Powell, who batted at #6, lasted eight balls before he was bowled by the fiery Arshdeep Singh for five. It left the 33-year-old Thomas, with a T20 average of 19 at the regional level, as West Indies’ last recognised batsman.
Did anyone doubt Thomas?
The Antiguan held his nerve when it counted. Khan didn’t.
The 25-year-old pacer overstepped in his first delivery of the 20th over and Thomas cashed in to smash the subsequent free-hit for six and his next ball for four to finish the contest.
“If you don’t give opportunity to Avesh [Khan] or Arshdeep [Singh], you will never find out what it means [for them] to bowl at the death for India,” said Sharma, as he defended his bowling choice for the last over. “They have done it in the IPL. [It is] just one game, those guys don’t need to panic.”
Sharma said the words “do not panic” just enough times to suggest that India’s confidence might be more fragile than one would expect.
“I will again and again say that we will continue to bat in this fashion because we want to achieve something,” said the India captain. “One-off result, [we] shouldn’t panic. After one loss, we won’t change things around.”
Maybe there is a crack there that Pooran and his troops can exploit. Judging from today, West Indies will need some exceptional individual performances to put pressure on the tourists though.
It won’t be easy.
Toss: West Indies
India 138 all out (19.4 overs) (Hardik Pandya 31, Ravindra Jadeja 27; Obed McCoy 6/17, Jason Holder 2/23)
West Indies 141/5 (19.2 overs) (Brandon King 68, Devon Thomas 31*; Hardik Pandya 1/22, Ravindra Jadeja 1/16)
Result: West Indies won by five wickets
Series result: West Indies tie series 1-1
Player of the Match: Obed McCoy
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