Thriller in Florida - Lewis hundred, Bravo brilliance seal narrow triumph
LAUDERHILL, Florida (CMC ):
Evin Lewis stroked an astonishing maiden Twenty20 International century, but West Indies required all-rounder Dwayne Bravo's guile in a brilliant last over, to beat India by a single run, in a thrilling finish to the opening game of the two-match series here yesterday.
The left-handed opener struck exactly 100 off 49 deliveries as West Indies, sent in at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, amassed the third highest-ever T20I total in reaching 245 for six off their 20 overs.
Lewis's opening Johnson Charles smashed 79 off 33 balls while Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell both chimed in with 22, as left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2-39) and seamer Jasprit Bumrah (2-47) picked up two wickets apiece.
In reply, K.L. Rahul carved out a superb, unbeaten 110 off 51 balls - his maiden T20I hundred - while opener Rohit Sharma bludgeoned 61 from 28 deliveries and captain MS Dhoni, an unbeaten 43 from 25 balls.
India were firm favourites when they started the final over needing just eight runs but Bravo, who finished with two for 37 off his four overs, showed every inch of this experience to get West Indies over the line.
He had Dhoni dropped by Marlon Samuels off the first delivery as the batsmen scrambled a single and then held Rahul to a single to deep cover off the next ball. Dhoni scampered a leg bye off the third ball before Rahul missed out on a huge opportunity when he could only get a single off a low full toss off the fourth delivery.
With four runs needed from the last two deliveries, Dhoni squeezed an attempted yorker down the ground and collected two but off the last ball, found himself deceived by a Bravo slower delivery and squirted a simple catch to Samuels at third man.
West Indies had earlier claimed opener Ajinkya Rahane cheaply off Russell when he was caught by Bravo on the ropes at third man the Trinidadian running around and producing a sensational low dive to come up with a spectacular catch at 31 for one in the third over.
Stroke-maker Virat Kohli threatened, but only briefly, striking three fours in scoring 16 off eight balls before gloving a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher off Bravo.
India were stumbling on 48 for two at the fifth over but Rahul anchored two excellent, successive partnerships to put them in the driver's seat.
First, he put on 89 with Rohit who clobbered four fours and four sixes in carving out his 11th T20I half-century before holing out to deep mid-wicket off Pollard's slow medium in the 12th over.
Rahul then collaborated in a fourth wicket stand of 107 with Dhoni which put India on the verge of pulling off the highest run chase ever in a T20 International.
Rahul, dropped on 36 by Russell at long-off off seamer and captain Carlos Brathwaite, struck 12 fours and five sixes while Dhoni counted two fours and two sixes, but both their efforts proved in vain.
Lewis had earlier given West Indies the impetus with a rollocking innings, which included five fours and nine sixes.
The 24-year-old produced a wonderful exhibition of clean hitting as he put on a stroke-filled 126 off 57 deliveries for the first wicket with Charles, whose half-century contained six fours and seven sixes.
Charles did most of the early damage, plundering 17 runs from the opening over from seamer Mohammed Shami before taking another 13 from the third over sent down by pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
He raised his fourth T20I half-century off 20 balls with a pair of back-to-back sixes off off-spinner Ravi Ashwin in the sixth over, and he ripped apart Jadeja in the ninth over which cost 20 runs, before he was bowled in the following over by a full-length delivery from Mohammed Shami.
Lewis, meanwhile, appeared measured until he slammed a pair of back-to-back leg-side sixes off Jadeja in the seventh over, before reaching his fifty off 25 deliveries by carving Mohammed Shami to the point boundary in the tenth over.
In the next over, he flirted with history when he belted five consecutive sixes off the hapless Stuart Binny, but could only drag the final delivery to long-on for a single.
The second match will be played today at the same venue starting at 9 a.m. (Jamaica time).