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Rahul ton in vain as India loses last-ball thriller

Evin Lewis (100) and Johnson Charles (79) take West Indies to 245/6, just about enough after Dwayne Bravo’s star turn

Rahul ton in vain as India loses last-ball thriller - Cricket News
Evin Lewis's 48-ball ton consisted five fours and nine sixes.
There was a hurricane threat, as well as the forecast of thunder and rain showers, and all of it came true at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida on Saturday (August 27), as it poured sixes and fours in a match that had 489 runs scored in exactly 40 overs.
West Indies held its nerve to beat India in a thriller to win the first of two Twenty20 Internationals, scoring 245 for 6 after blitzes from Johnson Charles, first, and then Evin Lewis, who scored a 49-ball 100. In reply, India rode on KL Rahul’s maiden T20I ton, but stopped at 244 for 4.
Rahul put on an exhilarating exhibition of strokeplay shepherded India towards the target with his unbeaten century, but his side stumbled at the last hurdle as West Indies sealed a one-run win in a high-octane, last-ball thriller.
With eight required off the last over, India looked on course when Marlon Samuels dropped a sitter from Dhoni off Dwayne Bravo’s first delivery. But Bravo, a death-over expert, bowled superbly, giving away just four singles off the first four balls, which left Dhoni to get four from the last two. They scrambled a couple off the fifth ball. But, in an anti-climax, Dhoni tamely chipped the last delivery to short third man where, this time, Samuels did not make a mistake and the sparse West Indian crowd erupted in celebration.
India was chasing the third-highest T20I total, and Rahul played an array of delectable shots to lead the chase. He walked in after a rather poor start, when India lost two wickets inside the Power Play. Ajinkya Rahane, after receiving a blow to his head from Andre Russell, tried an uppercut off the same bowler and was dismissed by an acrobatic catch from Bravo, who dove full length in front of the sightscreen. Virat Kohli then walked in amidst thunderous applause, hit a couple of crisp boundaries, but was dismissed going for a pull off Bravo.
Rohit Sharma and Rahul then started rebuilding the chase. Rohit looked solid and kept the chase going – if the first six overs of the West Indies innings were all brutality, India did it with finesse. Rahul was particularly severe on Sunil Narine, as he attacked him from that start. He played an inside-out six followed with a four, and Narine was rattled. After Rahul, Rohit hit Narine for two sixes in a row as well, and the runs started flowing.

Rahul was dropped off Carlos Brathwaite by Russell on 36 and that almost proved decisive as India reached its hundred in just the ninth over, and at the halfway stage, it was 116 for 2.
Brathwaite kept shuffling his bowlers in the hope that there would be a breakthrough, and finally Kieron Pollard provided it when Rohit holed out to Charles at deep midwicket for 62 in 28 balls in the 12th over – the two had put on 89 runs in one ball shy of seven overs.
As the last throw of the proverbial dice, Narine was brought on in the 14th over but was attacked right off the bat by Rahul: Another massive six over the covers, an audacious reverse sweep and another boundary to long-off. Narine was completely out of his element as he finished with none for 50 in three overs.
With 53 required off the last four overs, Dhoni, in his typical style, hit two sixes of Russell and the Indian 200 came up in the 17th over. Rahul then reached his century in the 19th over – in which 16 runs were taken – with a six and that effectively put paid to any hopes of West Indies winning this game. Until Bravo pulled a rabbit out of the hat and India fumbled off the last ball.

Earlier, India won the toss and elected to field on a belter of a pitch. West Indies opened with Charles and Lewis since Chris Gayle was injured. The openers started off in aggressive fashion, especially Charles, who launched Mohammed Shami in the first over for a six over midwicket and followed it up with a boundary – 17 runs came in that over. Lewis soon joined the fun and started picking up the pace, as the two openers picked boundaries at will. R Ashwin was brought on in the last over of the Power Play, but Charles laid in to him and launched two successive sixes and brought up his 50 of just 20 balls with five fours and four sixes as West Indies finished on 78 for no loss at the end of six overs. Ashwin, however, was the only Indian bowler to concede less than ten runs an over, like was the case with Bravo in the second half.
Lewis welcomed Ravindra Jadeja with a brace of sixes and Charles was chugging along at a good pace, as the team hundred came in the eighth over. It was not that the Indian bowling was bad; they tried everything but the hitting on a flat pitch was so unbelievable that there wasn’t much they could do. Shami was brought on after his expensive first over and bowled Charles off a full delivery when the batsman tried to play a cheeky shot over fine leg – he scored 79 in 33 balls.
Stuart Binny was introduced in the 11th over, and he was immediately hit out of the attack by Lewis as he leaked 32 runs, the batsman hitting five sixes. At this stage, West Indies was well on its way. Lewis brought up the fifth-fastest hundred in T20Is off just 48 balls with five fours and nine sixes, but in the same over – the 16th – Jadeja got a double breakthrough by dismissing Russell leg before and getting Lewis caught by Ashwin running back at the covers. Some lusty blows from Pollard and Brathwaite after that took West Indies to a strong total, just about good enough on the day.

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