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Kohli, Pant, bowlers help India win series against West Indies

Kolkata : A fluent 52 from Virat Kohli followed by a rapid 76-run partnership between Rishabh Pant (52 not out) and Venkatesh Iyer (33) coupled with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel keeping their calm in the last two overs helped India seal the T20I series against the West Indies with a narrow eight-run win in the second match at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Set 186 to win, Kumar and Deepak Chahar kept Brandon King and Kyle Mayers in check till the former drove down the ground. King and Mayers slammed a boundary each till Yuzvendra Chahal separated the duo in the final over of power-play. Chahal cramped Mayers for room, leading in the attempted flick giving a top-edge back to the leg-spinner for an easy catch.

Pooran, who slammed a fifty in the first match, hit boundaries off Chahal and Patel and was fortunate in surviving a run-out attempt from Kohli. West Indies’ struggle against spin continued as King skipped down the pitch to loft but holed out to long-on off Ravi Bishnoi.

Pooran received another life at 21 when Bishnoi dropped his catch off Chahal. To rub salt into the wound, Pooran slammed a colossal slog-sweep over deep square leg for six. Pooran then crunched Chahar for a fierce pull through deep mid-wicket. Powell, on the other hand, slammed a six each off Chahar and Bishnoi over long leg and long-off respectively to keep West Indies in the hunt.

The duo collected a four each off Bishnoi and benefited from Powell given a reprieve at 38 when Kumar couldn’t complete a catch off his own bowling. In the next over, Powell smoked Chahar over deep mid-wicket, which was followed by Pooran reaching his second fifty on the trot in 34 balls with a six over fine leg.

Powell reached his fifty in 28 balls as Pooran snatched a four off Patel to bring the equation to 29 runs off the last two overs. Pooran miscued the slog off Kumar and Bishnoi, under pressure at cover, held on to the catch. Kumar gave away just four runs in a brilliant 19th over. But Powell hammered back-to-back sixes, including a 102-m hit, over long-on, to keep Patel under pressure. Patel held his nerve to concede two singles in the last two balls to seal India’s 100th T20I win.

Earlier, Kohli, Pant and Iyer played sizzling knocks to give India an impressive 186 to defend. 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 premediated paddle off Akeal Hosein. Rohit Sharma was dropped on two by 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 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, which was enough for India to pip West Indies narrowly.

Brief Scores: India 186/5 in 20 overs (Rishabh Pant 52 not out, Virat Kohli 52, Roston Chase 3/25, Sheldon Cottrell 1/20) beat West Indies 178/3 in 20 overs (Rovman Powell 68 not out, Nicholas Pooran 62, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/29, Ravi Bishnoi 1/30) by eight runs

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