If cricket ever needed a perfect opening to crack the USA market, it can be safely said that the first T20I between India and West Indies on Saturday in Florida has served the purpose. Several records were broken as India fell agonizingly short of the target of 245 runs by just one run with Dwayne Bravo producing a memorable performance to help his team pull off a magical win and take a 1-0 lead in two-match series.
Earlier, India were put to the sword in their maiden international cricketing foray in the USA as West Indies hammered them to post a massive 245/6 in the first T20I at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground in Lauderhill.
The thrashing was led by opening batsman Evin Lewis. Playing in his second ever T20I, he recorded a 48-ball ton that had nine sixes and five fours in it as WI larruped a world record 21 sixes in their innings.
Johnson Charles began the carnage from the first over itself as Mohammad Shami, playing his first T20I in two years, was clobbered for a six and two fours as the paceman leaked 17 runs. That over set the tone of the West Indies innings as the two-time World Twenty20 champions belted runs with ridiculous ease, carving the Indian bowlers all around the park after being sent in by India captain MS Dhoni. In just 25 deliveries, they zoomed past the 50-run mark with Charles leading the run-charge. He brought up his own fifty in just 20 balls – the fastest by any batsman against India in the format. Right after he had reached the milestone, his partner Lewis, relatively quiet so far, jumped into the fray with two consecutive sixes off spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Even Dhoni’s most trusted lieutenant R Ashwin was proved ineffective after being brought to bowl the final over of the Powerplay, in which he was taken for 14 runs.
Charles was well on course to break the record for the fastest T20I century as he kept pounding the hapless Indian bowlers but Shami returned for his second over and against the run of play, Charles ended up attempting a needless paddle sweep to be cleaned up for 33-ball 79.
But Lewis took on from where his opening partner left. The highlight being five successive sixes off Stuart Binny in the 11th over – just about missing the opportunity to replicate Yuvraj Singh’s feat of six sixes in an over against Stuart Broad.
As Lewis continued to exploit the short boundaries, for the second time in the Windies innings, a batsman was well on course for a ton and with a potential to break the record for the fastest in the format. Charles might have squandered the golden chance but Lewis gobbled it with both hands, slamming a brilliant 48-ball ton – consuming three more that South African Richard Levi who holds the record for the fastest century in T20Is (45 balls).
Jadeja did provide some relief in the 15th over, picking two wickets including that of centurion Charles (100) and dangerman Andre Russell (22) but the platform that the opening pair laid was enough for West Indies to record their highest T20I total – third highest overall.
Records tumbled in the first Twenty20 International in the USA as KL Rahul smashed the joint second-fastest century but India fell short of achieving history as West Indies secured a one-run win over India in the first Twenty20 International in Lauderhill, Florida
A total of 489 runs was scored, with two batsmen scoring centuries. Evin Lewis smashed his maiden T20I century in just his second match but it was KL Rahul, playing in just his fourth T20I that stole the show but India could not get over the line thanks to a magnificent last over bowled by Dwayne Bravo.
Chasing a massive 246 for victory thanks to Lewis’ century and an aggressive 79 off 33 balls from Johnson Charles, India got off to an average start with Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli falling cheaply. However, an 89-run stand between Lokesh Rahul and Rohit Sharma got India back on track.
Rahul was in magnificent form, finding the gap to perfection. He went after Sunil Narine by smashing him for two fours and a six. He punished West Indies skipper Carlos Brathwaite for two fours and he got a huge lease of life on 36 when Andre Russell dropped him off Brathwaite. He notched up his fifty off 25 balls and India kept themselves in the chase.
The right-hander was well supported by MS Dhoni, who showed signs of his big-hitting prowess as he started off in grand style. Rahul continued to target Narine by smashing him for another couple of boundaries and a six. In the 18th over, Rahul survived a close shout for LBW but he hung in there with Dhoni.
In the 19th over, Rahul sliced a full ball over third man to bring up his maiden hundred off 46 balls. It was the joint second-fastest century in Twenty20 Internationals, equal with South Africa’s Faf du Plessis who also scored it against the West Indies in Johannesburg in 2015.
In the last over, Bravo bowled magnificently as the two-time World T20 Champions held their nerve. With two runs needed off one ball, Bravo slipped in a slower ball but Dhoni could only find Marlon Samuels at short third man as West Indies salvaged a close win.
Brief score: West Indies 245/6 (Evin Lewis 100, Johnson Charles 79) vs India (Ravindra Jadeja 2/39, Jasprit Bumrah 2/47) beat India 244/4 (KL Rahul 110*, Rohit Sharma 62; Dwayne Bravo 2/37) by one run