CHENNAI, India, CMC – The West Indies produced their best performance of the Twenty20 International series against India but still went down by six wickets, losing off the last ball of the innings in the third and final match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here yesterday.
With India requiring one run off the last ball of the match, bowler Fabian Allen misfielded a drive from Manish Pandey, allowing the batsman to scamper through for a single for the unlikeliest of finishes.
India had looked to be easing to victory in pursuit of the Windies’ total of 181 for three off their 20 overs, with Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant’s 130-run partnership for the third wicket carrying them within sight of a comfortable victory.
The pair had carried their side to 175 for two, leaving India to get seven runs from 11 balls, before they both inexplicably gave their wickets away.
After scoring his first-ever T20I half-century, Pant needlessly tried to reverse sweep medium pacer Keemo Paul and lost his middle stump.
Then off the penultimate ball of the match and with only one run needed, Dhawan launched Allen straight into the hands of Kieron Pollard at long on to give the Windies a chance to tie the contest, where a super over would be required to decide a winner.
But Allen, arguably the Windies’ best fielder, was unable to gather the return with Pandey well short of his ground.
As Pandey and Dinesh Karthik strolled off the ground into the waiting arms of their teammates, an inconsolable Allen was comforted by his colleagues as he stayed hunched over on the pitch.
Earlier, the West Indies would have been satisfied with their eventual total, as they produced their best batting display of the series.
New openers Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer gave them a good start during a 51-run opening stand in seven overs.
Hope had looked like carrying on to a big total when he skied a delivery from Yuzvendra Chahal into the hands of Washington Sundar who took a good catch at long on to be out for 24.
Hetmyer followed soon after, his mistimed drive picking out Krunal Pandya on the cover boundary as the Windies slipped to 62-2. Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo then added 32 in four overs before Ramdin tried to give himself room to smash Sundar through the offside and was bowled.
His dismissal paved the way for Nicholas Pooran and the Trinidadian did not disappoint as he launched a savage attack on the Indian bowlers during a quickfire, unbeaten half-century.
He pulled Kumar over long on for six and then lifted him over long off for another maximum off consecutive balls and then in the next over he reverse-swept Chalal over cover for another huge six. Bravo wasn’t to be left out, hitting Pandya for a boundary and a six over long off.
Pooran brought up his half-century in the last over of the innings, where he reversed swept Khaleel Ahmed for a boundary off the first ball and then punched him past long off for another boundary, pulled him for a six over square leg and then guided him behind third man for another boundary in an over that yielded 23 runs.
He finished unbeaten on 53 from 25 balls with four boundaries and four sixes, while Bravo scored 43 not out off 37 balls.
India lost two quick wickets in captain Rohit Sharma for four and Kannaur Rahul for 17 to slip to 45 for two early on.
But Dhawan who scored 92 and Pant who made 58, took control of the contest and set their team on their way to victory as Windies’ captain Carlos Brathwaite’s insistence on persevering with his fast bowler and medium pacers backfired.
Dhawan’s 50 came off 36 balls, while Pant took just 30 balls on his way to registering his first T20 50.
And although they both gave their wickets away, India was still able to hold on and claim a nail-biting victory.