India began life after World Cup with a laboured four-wicket win over West Indies in the first T20I of the three-match series, in Florida on Saturday (August 3). Navdeep Saini shone on his international debut, claiming 3 for 17 from his four overs as India kept West Indies to just 95. However, the visitors suffered six causalities along the way as they completed the chase only in the 18th over.The pitch had remained a mystery in the lead up to the game due to the inclement weather in Florida. Given the overnight rain and the dampness in the wicket, Virat Kohli had little hesitation in putting the opposition in first. The two-paced track notwithstanding, West Indies let themselves down in the batting department. They lost wickets early in a heap and then played catch up for majority of their innings despite a valiant 49 from Kieron Pollard. Saini led India’s charge with a three-for – triggering an the collapse with twin strikes in his opening over and wrapping up his quota, and West Indies innings, with a wicket-maiden.Kohli’s move to open with an offspinner was vindicated early on as Washington Sundar struck off the second ball of the contest to send John Campbell packing. His new-ball partner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, followed suit soon after, deceiving Evin Lewis with a knuckle ball to dismiss the second opener for a duck as well.Nicholas Pooran, who came one-down, got West Indies moving. He slammed Washington for a four and a six in his second over that yielded 12 runs in total, and then welcomed Saini to international cricket with another hit for a six – this time straight down the ground. However, the pacer had his revenge two balls later, inducing a top-edge that Rishabh Pant safely pouched behind the stumps. The Delhi pacer topped it up with another key wicket, beating Shimron Hetmyer for pace and handing him a golden duck. Khaleel Ahmed too joined the party in his first over, dismissing Rovman Powell for just 4 to leave West Indies reeling at 33 for 5 at the end of powerplay.Pollard was then involved in a brief recovery partnership with his skipper Carlos Brathwaite, who played a rather uncharacteristic knock worth 9 off 24 deliveries. But, given the situation, the eight-over period that yielded 34 runs, was the one of the few highlights of West Indies’ batting innings. Pollard did the bulk of damage, taking on India’s other two spinners – Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya – for a six each in back to back overs that nudged West Indies past the 50-run mark.Pandya pulled off a smart return catch in his final over to wrap up Brathwaite’s vigil on 9, and break the stubborn sixth-wicket stand. It was down to Pollard to get the hosts to a respectable total, and he kept at it despite witnessing a feeble collapse at the other end. He took on the pacers next, smashing a six each off Saini and Bhuvneshwar to pep up the scoring rate a tad. The former, though, denied him the satisfaction of a consolatory fifty by trapping him lbw on 49 in the final over – a wicket granted only with the help of a successful review. Finishing with a wicket-maiden, and figures of 4-1-17-3 on debut – the 26-year-old ensured West Indies were left short of a three figure score.India’s reply wasn’t off to the best of starts either. Sheldon Cottrell gave West Indies an early breakthrough as Shikhar Dhawan, on a comeback trail after a thumb injury ended his World Cup early, was trapped plumb in front of the stumps. At the other end, though, Rohit Sharma enjoyed his fair share of luck – a top-edge that comfortably sailed over the ropes for his first six and then, one ball later, a tough chance at third man that fell just short of Sheldon Cottrell. The final powerplay over saw 11 runs leaked by Cottrell, of which the Indian vice-captain scored 10 in the form of a boundary and a six.Sunil Narine gave West Indies a little opening with consecutive strikes in his following over. Rohit grew adventurous and tried to pull the spinner across the line, only to hole out to long-on fielder, Pollard. Off the very next ball – Pant’s first in the game – the Indian wicketkeeper-bat attempted a slog-sweep and top-edged to deep square leg for a simple catch.Kohli and Manish Pandey played contrasting knocks, for 19 runs each. However, the pair knocked off another 32 runs in the partnership to take India to 64 before the next pair of setbacks came in quick succession.
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