August 28, 2016 1:38:51 am
Synopsis: KL Rahul shines brightest despite India’s loss. Before that, Johnson Charles turns up the heat on a hot Miami morning. The Evin Lewis show follows. Stuart Binny concedes five sixes in an over on a day when international cricket calls on Uncle Sam
Rahul shines brightest
By the end of the 17th over during India’s chase, the balance had tilted in favour of India. Three sixes in an Andre Russell over did the trick. You back a side to score 33 runs off the last 18 balls with seven wickets in hand. KL Rahul and MS Dhoni were in the middle of an excellent partnership. India went into the final over with eight for victory. Dwayne Bravo kept it tight, braving a Marlon Samuels blooper off the first ball. Two required from final delivery, and the India captain tamely sliced it to short third man. This time, Samuels held the catch to give West Indies a one-run victory, defending 245. The Caribbeans were ecstatic and Rahul crestfallen. He was the brightest Indian spark in this game and didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. Rahul justified his selection with a sparkling 54-ball 110 not out (12X4, 5X6).
India had been maintaining an excellent run rate right from the start, but Virat Kohli’s dismissal in the fifth over was a decisive blow. India usually don’t win when Kohli falls early in a steep chase. Rohit Sharma, too, perished after reaching his half-century. Rahul rose to the challenge and took the game to the opposition.
The young man picked his target right – Sunil Narine. His first shot against the ‘mystery’ spinner was a slog sweep from outside the off stump over short fine leg for a four. He then danced down the track to hit Narine against the turn for a six over wide mid-off. What a shot! A late cut three balls later was exquisite.
Narine returned for his second spell and Rahul took a six and two fours off him. A six off Russell brought his maiden T20 international hundred in 46 balls. He missed Richard Levi’s world record mark by one delivery but in the grand scheme of things it hardly mattered. Rahul had scored his 397 runs in the last IPL at a strike-rate of 146.49. Playing alongside Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore he developed his game for limited-overs cricket. A total of 236 runs at 78.66 in three Test innings in West Indies attested a rich vein of form. At Lauderhill, Rahul carried it forward to T20 cricket. From India’s point of view, he was the biggest positive from this game.
Charles turns up the heat
Charles’s 36-ball 52 had been instrumental in West Indies’ win over India in the World T20 semi-final at Wankhede back in March. That was a judiciously paced innings. Here, he was out to enjoy himself. Mohammed Shami bowled the first over and the 27-year-old opener welcomed him with a six and a couple of fours. For the next two overs he had been a bit circumspect before taking back-to-back fours off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Jasprit Bumrah, rusty after international break, was pulled over deep mid-wicket for a maximum and then, Charles turned his attention to R Ashwin. He tried to outwit Charles with a finger-spun leg-break. The latter used his reach, got underneath the delivery and sent it about 10 rows back over long-on. Ashwin changed his line and bowled outside off. Charles resorted to an old-fashioned slog to take another six over wide mid-on.
Ravindra Jadeja, too, was greeted with a four and two sixes as Charles raced to 79 off 32 balls before being yorked by Shami. It wasn’t the right delivery to play a lap sweep but after those six fours and seven scintillating sixes, nobody complained. The defending World T20 champions had romped to 132 after 10 overs – highest by any team at the halfway stage of an innings in the history of T20Is.
The Lewis show
It was only his second T20 international, and Lewis played the game because Chris Gayle was injured. The 24-year-old opener had a forgettable debut – out for a duck in the World T20 fixture against Afghanistan in Nagpur. His team lost the contest by six runs. But he made his second coming count and racked up a ton.
Lewis was happy to play second fiddle to Charles upfront. A four and a six off Bumrah looked routine business. Jadeja bowled into him and the left-hander swung hard for consecutive maximums. Lewis took charge after his opening partner departed. The 49-ball 100 (5X4, 9X6) had been a terrific effort.
The five sixes over
Stuart Binny was slotted into the role of a specialist all-rounder and he came on to bowl in the 11th over. A length delivery to start with and Lewis whacked it over deep mid-wicket. Binny bowled full, Lewis clobbered him over the straight boundary. The bowler decided to change the angle and came from around the wicket. But he bowled a wide. A full-toss followed, to be dispatched over long-off. The next two deliveries were half-trackers and accounted for two more sixes. The final ball turned out to be sort of anticlimax, as only a single was scored off it.
Calling on Uncle Sam
Manhattan had been the venue for cricket’s oldest-ever international contest; between USA and Canada in 1844. Circa 2016, and Indian cricket has made its first official foray into American soil with two T20 internationals against West Indies the first of which was played at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Lauderhill.
This ground had played host to six Caribbean Premier League matches in July. But this was a T20 international between two heavyweights. No wonder that fans, mostly Indian and Caribbean expats, wanted to be a part of history.
The pitch was a belter, producing nearly 500 runs, and playing fully to the crowd.
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