Holder, Powell guide West Indies to thrilling win over India

Team India received a reality check in the T20I series opener against the West Indies in Tarouba on Thursday, suffering a four-run loss in a match that went down the wire.

Senior all-rounder Jason Holder led the way for the Windies with a haul of 2/19 from four overs, and was ably assisted by Obed McCoy (2/28) and Romario Shepherd (2/33) as the Windies restricted the Men in Blue to 145/8 after setting them 150 to win.

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This after skipper Rovman Powell (48) and his predecessor Nicholas Pooran (41) led the way with a couple of sparkling forties, helping the home team post 149/6 on the board on track that was a bit slower compared to the one used in the third ODI, in which the Men in Blue ended up amassing 351 runs on the board.

The Indians thus find themselves trailing the West Indians for the first time in their ongoing tour of the Caribbean and the United States after winning the two-Test series 1-0 and clinching the three-ODI series 2-1.

Tilak shines on debut

For the third time in the series, Mukesh Kumar was handed his maiden cap. The Bengal pacer had featured in second Test as well as in all three one-dayers, and made his T20I debut alongside Tilak Varma, who made his first international appearance in the process.

Read | Mukesh Kumar, Tilak Varma handed debuts in first T20I

Mukesh couldn’t quite recreate his heroics with the ball in the ODI series decider that also took place at Tarouba’s Brian Lara Stadium on Tuesday, going wicketless for 24 runs in three overs although he bowled relatively well in the death overs.

Tilak, though, got his international career off to a superb start with an attacking 39 off just 22 deliveries that contained two fours and three sixes. Before his whirlwind knock, in which he struck at 177.27, he had plucked two catches including a blinder at deep midwicket to dismiss Johnson Charles off Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling.

Tilak forged an attacking third-wicket stand with Mumbai Indians teammate and T20I vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav as the pair put the Men in Blue back on track after openers Shubman Gill (3) and Ishan Kishan (6) departed for single-digit scores.

The two, however, would depart in successive overs around the halfway stage of the chase. Shimron Hetmyer was involved in both dismissals with back-to-back catches, the first of which was a brilliant grab at extra cover to dismiss SKY for a run-a-ball 21 that rivalled Tilak’s effort from earlier in the day.

Skipper Hardik Pandya and wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson then gave the Indians the impetus they needed with a 36-run fifth-wicket stand that took them past 100; both set batters, however, perished in the 16th over, with Pandya getting bowled by an off-cutter from Holder and Samson getting run out thanks to a direct hit from Kyle Mayers.

Axar Patel (13) and Arshdeep Singh’s (12) contributions ensured the Men in Blue took the game to the very last delivery of the innings despite the Windies bowlers chipping away at regular intervals. In the end, the home team managed to hold on to its nerve and walk away with a victory.

Earlier, skipper Powell and former captain Pooran built on a solid start provided by opener Brandon King to power the Windies to a competitive total of 149/6.

While fellow opener Mayers struggled to get going, King took the attack to the Indians from the word go after Powell opted to bat, collecting four fours and a six during his 19-ball 28.

Both Mayers and King would depart in Yuzvendra Chahal’s first over of the day, with the senior leg-spinner trapping both leg-before wicket although in Mayer’s case the ball was later revealed to be going down leg.

Pooran, who had struck a match-winning hundred for MI New York against Seattle Orcas in the final of the inaugural Major League Cricket in the United States, took the attack to Chahal right away, smashing him for a four and a six in his first three deliveries. ‘Nicky P’ would also collect a six and a four off Axar Patel’s bowling in the following over to ensure the Windies ended the powerplay on 54/2.

Powell, who had replaced Pooran as the T20I captain after the disastrous 2022 T20 World Cup campaign, got his innings off to a patient start and was scoring at a run-a-ball by the time Pooran was dismissed off Pandya’s bowling.

The Jamaican batter decided to shift gears after Pooran’s dismissal, and after collecting 20 off his first 19 deliveries, he would score 28 off his next 12 deliveries, collecting three sixes and a four. He would ultimately miss out on what would’ve been his fifth T20I half-century by just two runs, getting deceived by a slower delivery from Arshdeep that resulted in a simple catch for Surya at long on.

Brief Scores:

West Indies 149/6 in 20 overs (Rovman Powell 48, Nicholas Pooran 41; Yuzvendra Chahal 2/24) defeated India 145/8 in 20 overs (Tilak Varma 39; Jason Holder 2/19) by 4 runs.

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