Mumbai: Shedding off their experimental approach, India went into the T20 decider with a full-strength side to beat West Indies by 67 runs at the Wankhede Stadium here on Wednesday. The win also stretched India’s unbeaten series streak against the T20 specialists to eight across formats.
The series result of 2-1 in India’s favour was a poor outcome for the West Indies, who had bounced back in style to bring the series to parity in the second T20I after a Virat Kohli special helped the hosts reign supreme in Hyderabad.
Chasing India’s third-highest score of 240/3, it was imperative for the West Indies to get off to a good start but visitors were reeling at 17-3 inside four overs, courtesy of India’s pace troika of Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar, who ended up with 2 wickets each. Skipper Kieron Pollard (68 from 39) and Shimron Hetmyer (41 from 24) offered some resistance for the visitors but with asking rate mounting with each delivery, West Indies, who had already lost Elvin Lewis due to knee injury, ended up losing too many wickets to threaten India at the death overs.
Earlier, Pollard won the crucial toss and invited India to bat first at his IPL home ground. The toss ended up being the only positive for the West Indies as carnage from the top order neutralised the opening bowling pair of Sheldon Cortrell and Jason Holder. India hammered 72 runs in the first six overs and brought their fifth-highest power-play score in the process.
Rohit Sharma (71 from 34) and KL Rahul (91 from 56) put on 135 runs for the opening wicket to lay the platform for India's imposing total. The partnership was finally broken when Rohit, while attempting another big heave to be caught by Hayden Walsh Jr off paceman Kesrick Williams.
Kohli soon joined the party to flay the West Indies attack as he completed his fifty in 21 deliveries and finished on an unbeaten 70 with four fours and seven sixes.
The duo and skipper Virat Kohli combined to hit 16 sixes as India reached 240-3 in the first innings.
Sharma also became the first Indian batsman to hit over 400 international sixes with his first of five strikes over the fence. West Indies' Chris Gayle leads the sixes show with 534 across all three formats.
It was another poor day for Rishabh Pant, who was dismissed by Pollard for a duck but Rahul remained firm.
Rahul, who completed his third fifty in the last four T20 innings and hit four sixes in his 56-ball knock, then put on 95 runs with Kohli before getting out in the last over.
The two teams will now play three One-Day Internationals on December 15 (Chennai), December 18 (Visakhapatnam) and December 22 (Cuttack).
We had spoken a lot. It was about going out on the field and executing.
I had the opportunity to do something different, which I don't usually do.
I told KL to stay on till the end, and said I'll try and smash a few. It was my second-year anniversary today, my wedding, and it was a special day for me. I know that I can contribute in all formats, it's about putting your mind to it. My role becomes crucial, because I have to play two roles. I'm trying to be able to play like this as well. You have to do it out there in the middle to gain confidence from it. I think two guys in the middle with clarity, the way Rahul and Rohit played today, that is key. Batting first [earlier], we've been too tight and hesitant, should we go for it, should we not.
Taking the positives, when you look at our performances with the bat through the series, consistent, we'll take that as a unit. At the end of the day, we know we need to get better at executing with the ball. In our minds [240 was gettable].
230 has been chased here when England played South Africa. There's a lot of emerging players coming through. Yes, the bowling is a concern, but we have a roster of guys coming through. Those are the areas, but we know success is a boring thing, you need to do the right things day in and day out. Yes, we lost 2-1, but we have three more games to look forward to in the ODIs."