The Windies top five turned up at last, helping them to put on a strong total for the first time in the series, before a stunning comeback almost saw them snatch victory from India’s grasp.
Batting first, Windies ran up 181/3, with all of their top five reaching double figures. Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope gave them a fast start, adding 51 inside the first Powerplay, before the latter fell to the first ball of the second Powerplay, top-edging a slog sweep to deep midwicket. Washington Sundar was the catcher and Yuzvendra Chahal the fielder, vindicating India’s rotations, with both coming into the team for this match.
Chahal then struck again to dismiss Hetmyer, the batsman unable to keep down a cut and finding Hardik Pandya at deep backward point. Denesh Ramdin struggled to get going, hitting one six in his run-a-ball 15, and when he chopped on to Sundar, it seemed the Windies innings might fizzle out.
Instead Nicholas Pooran came in and wrested back momentum, smashing four fours and four sixes in his 25-ball 53. He was well-supported by Darren Bravo, who made 43 off 37. Windies went into the break with their tails up, having plundered 23 runs off the final over, bowled by Khaleel Ahmed.
Their defence started strongly too, with Keemo Paul enticing Rohit Sharma, centurion in the last game, to drive straight and hard to Carlos Brathwaite at mid-off in the third over, and they struck again in the fifth as Oshane Thomas got one to nip away, catching the edge of the flailing bat of KL Rahul.
By then however, Dhawan’s eye was in, and the man who joined him needed no invitation to attack the bowling. After two overs of consolidation, Pant pummelled Brathwaite for two fours in an over, and they were away. Each of the 11th and 13th overs cost 18 runs as the pair broke the back of the run chase, before guiding India close with some sensible batting.
By the time their stand was broken, Pant bowled trying to ramp a fierce Paul yorker, the pair had added 130 runs in exactly 13 overs, and India needed seven runs off 10 balls. It seemed a formality, but as Manish Pandey struggled first up – taking just two runs off the remainder of Paul’s superb 19th over – and Dhawan caught the jitters, unable to find the ropes off the first four balls of the last over, the Windies could dare to dream.
Dhawan then fell to the second last ball of the game, holing out to long-on when only a single was needed, and India needed one off one ball. Pandey tapped gently, set off, Fabian Allen lunged to his right and parried it past midwicket running in, and India scampered through for a single, sealing a 3-0 clean sweep.
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