Duncan Fletcher’s reign as coach of India started on a winning note as the tourists won their once-off T20I against the West Indies by 16 runs at the Queen’s Park Oval on Saturday.
A late blitz of 72 runs from their last five overs proved the difference for Suresh Raina’s side as they powered to 159 for six, a total that proved beyond their hosts on a tricky batting track in Trinidad. Subramanian Badrinath was named man-of-the-match for his crucial knock of 43 runs.
Unsurprisingly Windies skipper Darren Sammy opted to bowl first with dark clouds looming overhead, and the rain in the lead-up to the game that had made for a bowler-friendly conditions.
While the hosts retained faith in the XI that beat Pakistan in a T20 clash in late April, India’s new-look side featured T20I debuts for openers Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan and middle-order batsman Subramaniam Badrinath.
Dhawan (5) was dismissed early by Sammy in slightly bizarre fashion. Initially looking to sway out the way of a short ball from the Windies skipper, the left-hander at the last moment looked to guide the ball down to third man but only succeeded in edging through to Andre Fletcher behind the stumps. The edge was obvious but nevertheless Dhawan looked strangely bemused to be given out.
Patel (26) and Virat Kohli (14) then briefly threatened to unleash a world of hurt on the home side, bashing 20 off one Andre Russell over.
But as the rain began to fall so did the wickets, with Sammy again the man doing the damage by using a slowerball to great effect. Kohli fell looking to drive a full delivery, but having failed to spot the slower one his timing was off and the ball flew into the sky and then into the hands of the waiting Danza Hyatt.
Patel fell off the following delivery, scooping an off-cutter to point and when Indian skipper Suresh Raina (2) was dismissed by his opposite number ten balls later, the visitors were struggling on 56 for four.
Badrinath, looking to make the most of a rare Indian chance, seized the initiative after a brief period of consolidation and hit five fours in his innings of 43. Rohit Shrama proved a worthy partner as the pair put on 71 for the fifth wicket, with Sharma smacking two sweet sixes on his way to 26.
When the pair fell in consecutive overs a late stutter looked on the cards, but Yusuf Pathan (15) and Harbhajan Singh (15) clobbered a few boundaries in the death to ensure that India pummelled 72 off the last five overs and in the process registered a very competitive score.
While Sammy excelled both with the ball and in the field, some of his colleagues were found wanting, with Ashley Nurse dropping an easy caught-and-bowled chance and Ravi Rampaul picking up a wicket off a no-ball.
The West Indies then made a reserved start to their chase, as Praveen Kumar kicked the innings off with a maiden over, before the home side took a masive double blow as both openers departed within the space of four deliveries.
Windies form man Lendl Simmons was dreadfully unlucky to be given out caught at slip after the ball had hit thigh and not bat. He fell in Ravichandran Ashwin’s first over, just after opening partner Andre Fletcher had looked to kick-start the run-chase with a six back over the off-spinner’s head.
Fletcher himself would join Simmons in the hut soon after as he was bowled by a yorker from Munaf Patel, the Windies all of a sudden reduced to 22 for 2.
Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo then sought to recover the innings in a 66-run stand, though with their combined contribution coming from just over 11 overs, it was a partnership which ultimately put too much pressure on the rest of the West Indies innings.
Just as the pair looked to launch with five overs to go, both perished in the same Harbhajan over. Samuels (27) skied to wicketkeeper Patel and Bravo clubbed a four before being bowled for 41. That trouble then deepened just a run later when Darren Sammy was out for a duck to reduce the hosts to 93 for five with less than four over of the innings left.
At that stage the game was all but over, although allrounder Christopher Barnwell caused a brief stir and provided a hint of respectability for the home side with a swashbuckling knock of 34 not out from just 16 balls.
Five Indian bowlers were used and all proved economical with Harbhajan finishing with the innings’ best figures of 2 for 25. Cricket365