A combined effort by India’s lower middle-ranking team and three debutants from debutant Navdeep Saini allowed her team to sneak home at four gates in the first T20I of their series against the West Indies.
After winning the pitch, Indian skipper Virat Kohli decided to insert the West Indies to beat. He was immediately rewarded when both West Indian opener games were scored without scoring when Washington Sundar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar each took an early wicket.
Nicholas Pooran, fresh from an ICC Men’s Breakout Cricket World Cup, was accompanied by T20 superstar Kieron Pollard at the crease. Pooran played well for his 20, before Saini pulled an upper edge from his blade so that Rishabh Pant left the stumps behind and claimed the sailor’s first international wicket.
Apart from Pollard, who reached the third-highest T20I score at 49, no other Windies player made it to double digits. Saini picked up the first ball from Shimron Hetmyer, while Khaleel Ahmed, Krunal Pandya and Ravi Jadeja each picked up a wicket. Saini was the choice of bowlers who ended up with 3/17 out of his four overs – including a wicket in the 20th – when the West Indies crawled on 95/9 until the end of their innings.
West Indies have the task of defending 95, admirably executed. Sheldon Cottrell trapped a Shikhar Dhawan-Lbw with a seven-ball-one to leave India 4-1 after two overs. The two other top titans of India, Kohli and Rohit Sharma, supported the ship. At 32/1 in the seventh, India was well. Come in, Sunil Narine. He tied Sharma and Pant in successive balls to open the game wide.
While none of the mid-sized companies in India stayed with them for too long, everyone, with the exception of Pant, made contributions with which they could keep control of the matter together. Jadeja and Sundar had 16 balls left and went 1-0 in the lead, as the impressive Saini rightly won the award as a player of the game.