Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya guide India to 5 wicket victory against West Indies at Eden
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Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya guide India to 5 wicket victory against West Indies at Eden

Kolkata, Nov 5: Despite a stirring riposte with the ball, the Windies’ sub-par total at Eden Gardens was never sufficient as their problems deepened on a tough tour of India.

It was not without its moments of positivity, but the stark final analysis for the Windies’ embattled tourists was another loss on their bruising Indian tour. Their five-wicket defeat would have been much wider if not for a superb opening spell from the 21-year-old Jamaican debutant, Oshane Thomas, whose searing pace caused serious discomfort to India’s top order and accounted for the wickets of their champions Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, both perishing to 147 kph thunderbolts.

Thomas helped reduce India to 45/4 in their run-chase before Dinesh Karthik, in place of M S Dhoni, joined the fray. His unbeaten 31 from 34 balls helped steady the nerves and take India to victory with 13 balls remaining. Debutant Krunal Pandya applied the gloss with a nine-ball 21 not out, and hit the winning runs.

Despite Thomas’ heroics, and the impressive support offered by Carlos Brathwaite, whose four overs yielded two wickets and just 11 runs, the Windies’ bowlers simply had too few runs to play with, after a steady procession of wickets in their innings saw them stagger up to 109/8 from their 20 overs.

The star for India again was Kuldeep Yadav, who is fast becoming one of the most dangerous slow bowlers in short-form cricket in the world. His three wickets today took him to 15 from his last five T20Is and he was again irresistible, with solid support from the debutants Krunal Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed.

Khaleel began his T20I journey with a leg-side wide but thereafter was a model of control and incisiveness, regularly tipping past the 135kph mark with his left-arm angle to record figures of 1/16 from his four overs.

Pandya bettered his fellow debutant by one run, totting up 1/15 from his four, with the big wicket of Kieron Pollard, caught at long-on for a scratchy 25-ball 14, heaving against the spin to hand Manish Pandey an easy catch.

It was an insipid show with the bat, but despite winning just one game on tour so far, the Windies should not be too downhearted. The emergence of Thomas and fellow 21-year-old Shimron Hetmyer – alongside the more established names of Shai Hope and Jason Holder – suggests the makings of a dynamic young team.

Hetmyer, having enjoyed an excellent ODI series, began his innings today with a stunning straight-drive on-the-up that evoked the great old Caribbean left-handers, but that was as good as it got, as he soon found himself alongside Hope at the non-striker’s end with the stumps being broken at the other.

The run-out, in the fifth over of the match, came just as a partnership seemed to be developing, and sucked the life out of the innings.It was hard to fathom who was at fault: Hope, who’d begun brightly in taking two boundaries from the first over, played it into the leg-side and set off for a run; Hetmyer was on his heels, hesitated and then took off, only to turn back and accompany his partner to the non-striker’s end. Even an errant throw from Pandey at mid-wicket above the keeper’s head couldn't save either man – and it was Hope who had to go.

When Hetmyer followed soon after, playing one shot too many, the innings was out of kilter. Only a few lusty blows from another debutant in Fabian Allen, whose 27 was comfortably the highest score for the Windies, got them up to three figures. Despite Thomas’ brilliance, it was never going to be enough.The next match in this three-game series takes place on November 6, with the final game on the following Saturday. (UNI)