Lauderhill (US): The Indian batters fluffed their lines when it mattered most as a determined West Indies handed captain Hardik Pandya his first bilateral series defeat comfortably winning the fifth and final T20 International by eight wickets here on Sunday.
West Indies won the five-match series 3-2 with opener Brandon King’s swashbuckling 85 not out off 55 balls paving the way for a 18-over cakewalk.
Within 24 hours of producing a batting master-class on a featherbed, the Indian batters, save Suryakumar Yadav’s scratchy yet effective 61 off 45 balls, posted a sub-par score of 165 for nine after opting to bat on a used track that had become slower.
On a pitch where stroke-making wasn’t an easy proposition, Surya had to curb his flair a bit but still had enough firepower in his arsenal to hit four fours and three sixes during his knock.
In reply, India’s nemesis Nicholas Pooran (47 not out off 35 balls) looked way more fluent but was overshadowed by opener King as they added 107 runs for the second wicket to put West Indies on course despite three weather related interruptions.
On same track where the Caribbean bowlers put the Indian batters under tight leash, the bowling attack looked horribly out of depth barring Kuldeep Yadav (0/18), who delivered yet another steady performance.
Pooran and King cleverly decided to play out Kuldeep’s spell and attacked others with disdain. Yuzvendra Chahal (0/51 in 4 overs) had a forgettable day in office.
Once the West Indies got 60 in the powerplay, there was no looking back as they maintained the tempo with most of the Indian bowlers pitching it short giving Pooran ample time to tonk them in the arc between the long-on and cow corner.
Between Pooran and King, they hit 10 sixes with half a dozen being smashed by the opener.
However it was the batting that became India’s undoing as they never got the desired momentum during the middle as well as end overs.
Even Surya was a bit subdued by his own lofty standards because the slowness didn’t allow him to play his natural game.
It was a used track where the ball started gripping from the very first over bowled by left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein (2/24 in 4 overs), who made an impact against the Indian batters throughout the series.
Between him and off-spinner Roston Chase (1/25 in 4 overs), they bowled eight overs for just 49 runs taking three wickets in the process.
Yashasvi Jaiswal (5) started with a reverse sweep but Hosein’s delivery that stopped and turned with a tad extra bounce forced the batter to offer a simple return catch.
Shubman Gill (9) was unlucky as he would have survived had he taken a review with TV replays showing that Hosein’s arm ball was drifting down the leg-side.
Tilak Varma (27 off 18 balls) was at his fluent best taking 19 off the final powerplay over bowled by Alzarri Joseph. But he also fell prey to the slowness of the track offering Chase a return catch.
Tilak’s dismissal did become the turning point as far as India’s downfall was concerned.
This was Surya’s 15th T20I fifty but it was on the scratchier side despite some glorious strokes including the six off Joseph over long-off to complete his milestone.
But it didn’t help as Sanju Samson (13 off 9 deliveries) played a nothing shot without any footwork off Romario Shepherd (4/31 in 4 overs) to put more pressure on Surya.
Skipper Hardik Pandya (14 off 18 balls) couldn’t get off the blocks and wasted too many balls before finally connecting one and then perishing off the very next ball as Shepherd used the slower ones to good effect.
Pandya’s problems did have its effect as Surya couldn’t provide the final flourish. Axar Patel (13) and Mukesh Kumar, who hit a final ball boundary, pushed India towards a par-score but that wasn’t enough in the end.