Virat Kohli announced his return to T20I after his brief hiatus by anchoring a mammoth chase against the West Indies in Hyderabad.
West Indies posted 207, courtesy of a whirlwind start provided by opener Evin Lewis which was then backed by a half-century from Shimron Hetmyer.
The hosts cantered to victory with eight balls to spare as Kohli smashed his career-best T20I score after KL Rahul set up the chase with a splendid knock of 68.
India have become the first team to successfully chase down THREE 200+ targets in T20Is. #IndvWI— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) December 6, 2019
The Indian captain seemed rusty at the start of his innings and couldn’t find his timing.
Kohli seemingly wanted to impose himself on the bowling and went too hard at the ball during the initial phase of his innings. He top-edged a pull shot over the square-leg boundary and a little later, his french cut off wrist-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr narrowly missed his leg stump.
That was all the luck he needed. That and medium pacer Kesrick Williams’ taunts. The bowler in his second over tried to get under the skin of Kohli with a couple of stares and even tried to unsettle him by getting in his way while completing a single.
From then on it was carnage!
After scoring a run-a-ball 20, Kohli took off, raking 74 runs off the next 30 deliveries, scoring six maximums and six boundaries in his unbeaten knock.
India batsmen in the chase from the 15th over onwards:— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) December 6, 2019
Kohli - 50 (16), 2x4, 5x6
Pant + Iyer - 16 (14), 1x4
Kohli finished the chase on his own! #IndvWI
Kohli’s wristy flick off Kesrick Williams to deposit a length delivery over midwicket was sublime and he used his bat to strike off Williams’ name, a celebration that the fast bowler is known for.
Though India lost a couple of wickets towards the end, the required rate was always in control. The 31-year-old skipper finished the game with a six over covers and celebrated by tapping the name on the back of his shirt.
KL Rahul grabs his opportunity
With Rohit Sharma falling early and Virat Kohli’s slow start, KL Rahul produced a timely knock that set the stage for Kohli’s assault later. He attacked the pacers in the power play and notched his second consecutive half-century in the format. During the course of his fluent knock of 62, KL Rahul became the fourth fastest player to score 1000 runs in T20Is.
India’s underwhelming fielding and a six-hitting masterclass from the Windies
Batting first, the visitors got off to a flyer as Evin Lewis and Brandon King took advantage of the field restrictions in the first six overs.
The southpaw looked set for a big innings having raced to 40 off 17 deliveries, but was adjudged LBW whilst playing across to off-spinner Washington Sundar.
After the dismissal of Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer who had poor series against Afghanistan, stepped up to produce a vital knock.
He was involved in a 71-run partnership with skipper Kieron Pollard that kept the run-rate hovering around 10 per over.
India’s best bowler of the day, Yuzvendra Chahal struck twice in the 18th over to pull back the scoring rate, but a smashing cameo from Jason Holder at the death meant that the Windies finished with 207 on the board.
West Indies managed to hit 15 sixes in the innings – their second highest tally in a T2oI match.
India’s fielding has been a cause of concern off late. They were poor in the series against Bangladesh and in Hyderabad too, there were quite a few lapses in the field.
A few misfields led to extra runs and there were as many as five dropped catches for which the players later blamed the low floodlights at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium.
The second game of the three-match series will be played at Thiruvananthapuram on December 8.
India 209/4 (Kohli 94*, Rahul 62)
West Indies 207/5 (Hetmyer 56, Lewis 40, Chahal 2-36)
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