India’s leg-spin prodigy – Ravi Bishnoi – enjoyed a
sparkling debut in the opening T20I against the West Indies in Kolkata, setting
up the victory for the Men in Blue with an excellent spell of two for 17. After
a nervy start, Bishnoi produced a player of the match performance to help
restrict the West Indies to just 157, a total which India comfortably chased
down with seven balls to spare thanks to some vital cameos from Rohit Sharma at
the start and Suryakumar Yadav at the end.
Having won the toss and chosen to bowl, India struck in the
first over as Bhuvneshwar Kumar had Brandon King fending a delivery to backward
point after finding some swing with the new ball. However, the West Indies
recovered nicely after Kyle Mayers found a flurry of boundaries while Nicholas
Pooran dropped anchor.
The West Indies put on 44 risk-free runs in the powerplay,
but the visitors struggled upon the introduction of India’s twin leg-spinners
Ravi Bishnoi and Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal trapped Mayers on the pads in the
first over after the powerplay and should have also picked up a wicket off the
first ball of his spell, only for Ravi Bishnoi to step back onto the boundary
rope after claiming a clean catch.
Nevertheless, Bishnoi made immediate amends with the ball in
hand. After a nervy first over, which included three wides, Bishnoi found his
radar and removed Roston Chase with his trademark googly before dismissing
hard-hitting Rovman Powell three balls later. The 21-year-old’s exploits
reduced West Indies to 74 for four after 11 overs, but the tourists recovered
in the back half of the innings thanks to a dashing innings from vice-captain
After a sedate start, Pooran climbed into the Indian attack,
creaming three sixes off Yuzvendra Chahal and reaching his half-century off 38
deliveries. Harshal Patel’s devilish slower ball brought an end to Pooran’s
innings for 61, but Kieron Pollard creamed a few vital boundaries in the slog
overs to take the visitors to a respectable target of 157.
In response, India got off to a flier as Rohit Sharma
attacked the new ball, creaming four boundaries in Odean Smith’s opening over
and scoring 38 off India’s 57 runs in the powerplay in just 16 deliveries.
However, the hosts struggled after the powerplay once the
spinners entered the attack. Roston Chase dismissed the Indian captain on 40
before ending Ishan Kishan’s struggle few overs later, as the wicket-keeper
holed out on the leg-side after an uncharacteristic knock of 35 from 42 balls.
The West Indies also removed Kohli and Pant in quick
succession, and India failed to find the boundary for 27 balls through the
middle overs until Suryakumar Yadav arrived at the crease to break the
shackles. The Mumbai batsman struck consecutive boundaries to start his innings
and shared an unbroken 48-run partnership off 26 balls with Venkatesh Iyer to
see India home with seven balls to spare.