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India hold firm to secure series

February 19th, 2022

Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran lashed super-charged half-centuries but seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced a high-class penultimate over, to swing the pendulum India’s way and earn them a narrow eight-run victory in the second Twenty20 International in India on Friday.

Chasing a challenging 187 in order to level the series at Eden Gardens, West Indies got a scintillating unbeaten 68 off 36 deliveries from Powell and an equally sparkling 62 off 41 balls from Pooran, to find themselves requiring 29 from the last two overs.

With a big over needed, the Caribbean side managed only four runs and lost Pooran, as Kumar kept his cool and executed brilliantly.

The target though remained in reach with 25 runs required off the last six balls, and Powell refused to let up, smashing two consecutive sixes off seamer Harshal Patel to keep the game alive.

His valiant effort went in vain, however, as Harshal kept his wits about him, to help the hosts secure victory and complete the series win.

“[Powell] was phenomenal today. I thought the partnership between him and Pooran almost got us over the line,” captain Kieron Pollard said afterwards.

“Sometimes that’s what we’re asking from the guys: try to bat as deep as possible.

“I’m pleased, not with the result, but pleased with the guys, the way how they continue to aim for consistency – Nicholas getting another half-century, Powell [with] two half-centuries in four games.”

India had earlier gathered 186 for five off their 20 overs after being asked to bat, wickeeper Rishabh Pant hitting an unbeaten 52 off 28 balls and former captain Virat Kohli stroking 52 off 41 deliveries.

Venkatesh Iyer smashed an 18-ball 33 towards the end as India accelerated to plunder 88 runs from the last seven overs.

Off-spinning all-rounder Roston Chase led West Indies’ attack with three for 25 from his four overs, claiming the key scalps of captain Rohit Sharma for 19 in the eighth over and Kohli in the 14th over.

West Indies struck as early as the second over when left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell removed Ishan Kishan to a catch at point for two.

Kohli arrived to hold the top order together, striking seven fours and a six while adding 49 for the second wicket with Rohit and 34 for the fourth wicket with Pant.

When Chase produced a beauty to bowl Kohli, Pant took charge, blasting seven fours and a six in a 76-run fifth wicket stand with Iyer who belted four fours and a six.

Brandon King (22) and Kyle Mayers (9) then posted 34 for the first wicket to provide the tourists with a solid, if not spectacular, start before the left-handed Mayers was caught and bowled by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal off a leading edge in the sixth over.

King batted slowly, labouring 30 balls and hitting two fours, and when he finally holed out in the deep in the ninth over after adding 25 for the second with Pooran, West Indies were confronted with a stiff required run rate of just over 11-½ runs per over.

Unfazed, Powell embraced the moment, striking four fours and five sixes, while Pooran joined in with five fours and three sixes, as they hauled their side back into the contest with a 100-run partnership for the third wicket.

Dropped on 21 in the 10th over, Pooran was first to his half-century off 34 balls in the 17th over, whipping pacer Deepak Chahar over fine leg for six.

And Powell, missed on 38 in the 16th when he skied a caught and bowled chance to Kumar, brought up his landmark off 28 balls in the 18th over with a single to the deep.

Momentum was with West Indies then but Kumar changed the course of the game in the 19th over, getting Pooran to hole out to cover where Bishnoi took an excellent catch under pressure.

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