A fluent 52 from Virat Kohli followed by a rapid 76-run partnership between Rishabh Pant (52 not out) and Venkatesh Iyer (33) helped India reach an impressive 186/5 in 20 overs against the West Indies at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
For the West Indies, off-spinner Roston Chase was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3/25 and leaving India in some trouble in the middle overs. But Pant and Iyer smoked 62 runs in the last five overs to give India a strong total to defend with dew coming into the equation.
After Akeal Hosein conceded four byes and two no-balls in a 10-run opening over, Sheldon Cottrell troubled Ishan Kishan with swing. The effort succeeded as Kishan’s struggle ended with the left-handed batter trying to flick but gave a leading edge to point.
Kohli began his innings with a well-timed flick followed by a premeditated paddle off Akeal Hosein. Rohit Sharma was dropped on two by Brandon King at point and to rub salt on the wound, Sharma slammed a late cut through point off Cottrell in the same over.
Kohli and Sharma continued their boundary-hitting spree against Jason Holder in the fifth over. Kohli welcomed Holder with a crunchy drive through cover while Sharma pulled nonchalantly over mid-wicket for another boundary. Kohli then cracked back-to-back boundaries off Romario Shepherd on both sides of the ‘v’ while Sharma ended the power-play phase with a six mistimed over cover.
Post power-play, Sharma’s innings was cut short at 19 when he tried to slog off Roston Chase but sliced to extra cover. Suryakumar Yadav got off the mark by using the pace off a ball from Hosein for a boundary past backward point. But in the next over, Yadav chipped a drive off the inner half of the bat and was snapped by Chase diving to his left.
From the other end, Kohli was taking ones and twos while cracking the occasional boundary. Kohli reached his fifty in 39 balls with a slog over long-on. He had luck on his side as Holder stationed at long-on couldn’t hold on for the catch. But on the fourth ball, Kohli pushed forward for a single but was beaten by turn from Chase and was bowled through the gate.
Pant and Iyer amassed 29 runs from 15th and 16th overs collectively to set India up for a big flourish in the last four overs. The left-handed duo ran hard for their singles while slamming some lovely shots all around the ground. Pant’s one-handed whip, resembling MS Dhoni’s helicopter shot, was the standout shot from the partnership where he and Iyer were the aggressors in equal measure.
The 76-run partnership off just 35 balls ended when Shepherd sent Iyer’s off-stump on a walk with a full yorker. Pant then reached his fifty on the second last ball of the innings to remain unbeaten on 52.
Brief Scores: India 186/5 in 20 overs (Rishabh Pant 52 not out, Virat Kohli 52, Roston Chase 3/25) against West Indies