Indian cricket team have started their post World Cup journey after their heartbreaking loss in the semi-final against New Zealand on Saturday against West Indies at Florida. A low scoring match on a tough pitch to bat on saw Indian winning the first match of the Twenty 20 series by four wickets.
Navdeep Saini shone on debut by claiming three wickets for just 17 runs and helped Indians to restrict restricted the Carlos Brathwaite side to only 95. He ran through the Windies middle order to take care of Nicholas Pooran (20), Kieren Pollard (49), and Shimron Hetmyer (0). In fact, he picked up Pooran and Hetmyer on two consecutive deliveries but missed the hat-trick opportunity eventually. Saini thus became the 4th player and the first Indian to deliver the 20th over as a maiden in T20I cricket. Earlier Jeetan Patel against Windies in 2008 and Mohammad Amir during the WT20 2010 game against Australia bowled maidens in the 20th overs.
Pollard, the sole fighter
After winning the toss, Virat Kohli opted to bowl first, and the decision proved right.
West Indies started with 0/1 and soon succumbed to 28/4. Washington Sundar struck in the beginning in the second ball of the game and Bhuvneshwar Kumar deceived and dismissed Evin Lewis for a duck as well and West Indies were 8/2.
Kieren Pollard walked in and started a fightback, all alone. Despite a combating 49 from Keiron Pollard, the Windies innings could never recover. Nicholas Pooran, the second highest scorer for the Windies batting at number three, tried to break the shackles with some big shots but did not last for long. Later with the skipper Brathwaite, Pollard tried to string the innings back. But Brathwaite was visibly struggling and could only add nine runs in 24 balls. However, Saini returned to pick up Pollard and the West Indies innings was wrapped up for 95/9.
A tough chase
India, in reply, did not have the solid starts as well. The comeback man Shikhar Dhawan was early to go for just one in seven balls. Rohit Sharma stayed and did try to set a momentum with his 25-ball 24 runs. One he was gone, Rishab Pant followed him immediately in the next ball for a duck and India were crawling on 32/3 in the seventh over. The target although looked easy, needed a lot of effort. Indian literally had to look for every run. The skipper Kohli and Manish Pandey scored 19 runs each to build a valuable partnership of 32 runs to take India to 64. But then India had a mini collapse as Pandey was sent on 64 and Kohli followed him on 69. Krunal Pandya (12) with Ravindra Jadeja (10*) tried to complete the rest of the job before he was gone in the 16th over. Washington Sundar finally hit a six to finish off the match in style in the 18th over.
Narine lead the Windies attack
Even with the help of pitch, it is not easy to make Indian batting order crawl. And this is what exactly the Windies did. Sunil Narine emerged as the best bowler with an analysis of 4-0-14-2. Narine also missed a hat-trick after picking up Sharma and Pant on back to back deliveries. He was well accompanied by Keemo Paul (2/23) and Sheldon Cottrell (2/20). Both took timely wickets and made Indian chase difficult.
West Indies 95/9 in 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 49, Navdeep Saini 3/17) lost to India 98/6 in 17.2 overs (Rohit Sharma 24; Sunil Narine 2/14, Cottrell 2/20, Paul 2/23) by four wickets.