A scintillating batting effort from Kieron Pollard was not enough to prevent India from beating West Indies by 67 runs in the final T20I in Mumbai and clinching the three match T20I series 2-1. India posted a colossal 240 for 3 – their third-highest T20I total – on the back of half-centuries from openers Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli, in chase of which West Indies finished on 173/8.
The margin could have been bigger, especially after Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar had rocked West Indies top order to leave them reeling at 17 for 3. Against all odds, Pollard and Shimron Hetmyer kept the match alive, adding 74 for the fourth wicket with some explosive striking. But the required run rate was way too much for the Windies to overhaul and despite Pollard lighting up the Wankhede with a starry 68 off 39 balls, India completed a comprehensive win.
If West Indies conceding almost 250 wasn’t enough to hurt their chances, they suffered another setback when Evin Lewis sustained an injury to his right knee while fielding during India’s innings and was ruled out of the remainder of the game. His replacement at the top Brandon King scored just five before edging Bhuvneshwar for Rahul to complete an easy catch. Then, India nipped out two of their tormenters from the previous game – Lendl Simmons and Nicholas Pooran off successive deliveries – the wicketkeeper batsman top edging to third man where Shivam Dube completed a stunning, running catch.
Hetmyer and Pollard injected life into the West Indies innings. Hetmyer drilled Shami for back-to-back sixes and welcomes Dube by taking him for 19 runs off his first over. Despite surviving a dropped catch by Shami at mid-off, Hetmyer did not stop. Instead, off Kuldeep Yadav, he mowed a couple of delightful sixes, but perished going for a third, connecting a full toss to Rahul at long-on.
Pollard on the other hand, started cautiously before really tucking into the Indian bowlers. Kuldeep was plundered for two sixes in the 13th over, followed by a boundary which brought up his half-century off 33 balls. Bhuvneshwar was punished with a six and a couple of fours before the curtains finally came down on Pollard’s blistering knock. India substituted Kohli and Rahul with two of the best reserved fielders – Manish Pandey and Ravindra Jadeja – and both took a catch each to aid India speed up their win.
Pollard backed his team to chase India’s total after electing to bowl. But the way India responded was outstanding. Rohit and Rahul were quick to get off the block and blasted 72 runs inside the Powerplay. There was no stopping either opener as India scored at over 10 an over and crossed the 100-run mark in the ninth over.
Rohit became the first Indian cricketer to pump 400 international sixes. It took Rohit 23 balls to bring up his half-century and with Rahul, added 135 runs off 114 balls for the first wicket before perishing for 71 off 34 with six fours and five sixes. India’s gamble of sending Rishabh Pant at No. 3 did not pay off as he was dismissed for a second-ball duck. But despite India losing two wickets in quick succession, it did not impact their scoring rate with Kohli and Rahul adding a blistering 95 for the fourth wicket.
Kohli was in a different zone altogether. It was pretty similar to his knock of 94 in Hyderabad except here he was on the ball from the word go. West Indies pulled things back in the 13th and 14th over, giving away 14 runs combined before Kohli raced to 23 off nine balls. However, it was in the 19th over that Kohli went berserk when he hammered counterpart Pollard for 27 runs with three sixes and two fours en route to a 21-ball half-century.
Rahul top edged Sheldon Cottrell in the final over for Nicholas Pooran to complete a simple catch before Kohli applied the finishing touches with six off the last ball.