Sports Desk: India have begun their preparations to next year's T20 World Cup with an emphatic 3-0 whitewash of the West Indies in a 3-match T20I series.
Captain Virat Kohli and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant along with fast bowler Deepak Chahar helped India outclass the hosts by 7 wickets in the final T20I at the Providence Stadium in Guyana on Tuesday.
In their first assignment after the World Cup semi-final exit, India asserted their dominance over T20 world champions by completing their 6th straight win. India had whitewashed West Indies 3-0 at home last year.
Notably, this was also West Indies' 6th straight loss in the shortest format of the game.
India were reeling in chase of 147 on a sluggish pitch after losing opener Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul cheaply inside the power play in chase of 147. However, captain Virat Kohli and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant combined for the 3rd wicket and put on a match-winning stand of 106 runs.
Pant, who was under the pump for throwing away his wickets in the first 2 matches in Florida, showed a lot of maturity as he took his time before beginning to cut loose. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who is set to get a lot of game time in the absence of MS Dhoni in the West Indies tour, gave enough respect to the likes of Sunil Narine before taking the attack to the other bowlers.
Pant went on thit his 2nd T20I fifty, giving himself a lot of confidence ahead of the ODI series, starting August 8 in Guyana.
At the other end, his captain Virat Kohli oozed class as he came up with a collection of crisply-timed, eye-catching strokes to get to his 21st ODI fifty. With the latest half-century, Kohli equalled Rohit Sharma on the list of batsmen with most fifties in the shortest format of the game.
Kohli departed in the 18th over but the damage was already done. The mellowed reactions from the West Indies players after the departure of the India captain said the story.
Earlier in the day, Deepak Chahar's opening burst broke the back of West Indies' top-order as the India pacer removed Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer and Sunil Narine inside the powerplay. The Chennai Super Kings pacer won the Man of the Match award for his opening spell on return to T20I cricket after over a year.
Kieron Pollard hit his first ODI fifty in 7 years but it went in vain as West Indies' total of 146 for 6 wasn't enough at the end of the day. Rovman Powell hit a quickfire 32 but Navdeep Saini's wickets proved crucial he removed Pollard and Nicholas Pooran in quick succession after the duo added 66 runs in the middle overs.
India will take on West Indies in the first of the 3-match ODI series in Guyana on Thursday. The two teams will also kick off their ICC World Test Championships later this month.
risingbd/Aug 7, 2019/Mukul