Basseterre: Suryakumar Yadav gave an exhibition of his incredible hitting skills with a superb 76 as India cantered to a seven-wicket win against the West Indies in the third T20 International here.
India now lead the five-match series 2-1 with the cricket caravan moving to USA’s Florida for the last two games of the series.
While more than 147 had never been chased in a T20I at the Warner Park ground, Suryakumar decided to alter that script in a 44-ball knock as India made short work of the 165-run target in 19 overs.
Shreyas Iyer (24 off 26 balls) was an ideal partner at the other end in a stand of 86 as they made the target look way easier than it actually was and that too on a surface which exactly didn’t look batting-friendly during the first part of the game.
Having had a brief dry spell after his maiden T20I hundred at Nottingham, Suryakumar was back in his element and this time in an unfamiliar role as an opener, which he has been performing during the series.
It was another 360 degree effort which showed his flexibility, skill and hand-eye coordination, all in one go. There were eight fours and four sixes in his knock.
There was a picture-perfect lofted six over extra cover off Alzarri Joseph, which will be difficult to forget as he held his pose for several seconds after execution.
There was slashed six off the same bowler and the ramp shot using the pace and bounce, a pull over deep mid-wicket and a cross-batted punch over mid-on fielder.
Against the parsimonious left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, there was a slog sweep over square leg to complete his half-century.
At the half-way stage, the score was 96 for no loss despite skipper Rohit Sharma (11) retiring hurt with a back muscle pull.
By the time Suryakumar was dismissed, India had the match under control with Rishabh Pant (33 not out off 26 balls) providing finishing touches.
After Rohit won a good toss and opted to field, his bowling unit maintained disciplined for the better part before Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh’s relative inexperience saw West Indies put up a competitive 164 for 5.
Left-handed Kyle Mayers (73 off 50 balls) did punish the Indian attack with eight fours and four sixes in his kitty as he added 50 in 7.2 overs with skipper Nicholas Pooran (22 off 23 balls) after an opening stand with Brandon King that yielded 57.
While Avesh Khan’s (0/47 in 3 overs) poor show stuck like a sore thumb, the other bowlers put up a more than decent show without being exceptional.
Just like Dinesh Karthik is team’s designated finisher in the batting order with 20 balls reserved for him, Arshdeep (1/33 in 4 overs) is being prepared as death overs specialist for his ability to bowl those wide yorkers.
However, in pressure cooker scenario of international cricket, the Punjab lad is still a work in progress.
The last two overs yielded 27 runs courtesy Shimron Hetmyer (20 off 12 balls) and Rovman Powell (23 off 14 balls).
The revelation in India’s bowling attack was Hardik Pandya, who used the change of pace effectively, mixing his cutters and slowers with an occasional block-hole delivery, which accounted for King.
Having hit a half-century in the last game, King looked scratchy during his run-a-ball-20 before Pandya castled him. His final figures of 4-0-19-1 with 12 dot balls was certainly important in the final context of the innings.
During the middle overs, Ravichandran Ashwin (4-0-26-0) was also impressive as he also had a dozen dot balls to his credit.