West Indies latch on to India’s lapses
Captain Virat Kohli feels a below-par batting performance in the last four overs of their innings and poor catching cost India dear as they lost the second T20I by eight wickets at the Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, which helped West Indies level the series.
The West Indies rode Lendl Simmons’s unbeaten 67 and brisk knocks from Evin Lewis and comeback man Nicholas Pooran to reach home with nine balls to spare, after India managed 170/7 in 20 overs.
Losing seven out of the last 15 T20Is where they have batted first, Kohli was asked if it has become an issue as statistics suggested.
“Numbers say a lot of things. They can say a lot of things that aren’t there as well. I think we were good for the first 16 overs while batting when we were 140-odd for four.
“But then in the last four overs, we should have got 40 to 45 runs at least, but we got only 30. We need to focus on that,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
Precisely, India managed only 38 runs in the last five overs after Shivam Dube’s 54 off 30 balls provided a platform for a final assault. “Shivam’s knock helped us reach 170.
“To be honest, West Indies bowled cutters and their change of pace did not help us. They read the pitch better than us.
“They played a very good game and deserved to win,” the skipper admitted.
While fielding, Washington Sundar at mid-off and Rishabh Pant behind the stumps dropped catches off three deliveries in one Bhuvneshwar Kumar over, letting off openers Simmons and Lewis. Simmons was only on six and Lewis on 16 then.
Following the reprieves, Simmons, Lewis (40) and Pooran (38 not out off 18 balls) ensured they took India’s bowlers to the cleaners.
“If we field so poorly, no amount of runs will be enough. We were poor on the field during the last two games. We dropped two catches in one over. Just imagine they lost two in the same over… That could have increased pressure on them,” Kohli rued.
“We need to be more brave while fielding. It’s a do-or-die game now coming up in Mumbai.”
Kohli, however, was happy that the ploy to send Dube at No. 3 worked well. “We knew they would use spinners early, so we thought why not use Shivam’s power. The plan worked well.”
Kohli’s counterpart Kieron Pollard lauded his bowlers for restricting India to 170 despite Dube looking dangerous and striking him for two sixes in the ninth over of the Indian innings.
“To be able to restrict India to 170 after my expensive over was fantastic. The way we batted, we had discussed how to approach the game, and the boys played it well.”
Talking about Simmons’s knock, Pollard added: “Simmo started slow, but he knows he can catch up. He has played a lot in India. Seniors showed the way and youngsters followed.”
Pollard also praised leg-spinner Hayden Walsh, who had impressive figures of two for 28 in four overs. “We have some guys who have done well in the CPL and we are excited about them.
“Walshy’s four overs were really good. Kesrick (Williams) bouncing back too.”
On a personal front, Pollard finds it imperative to share his knowledge with youngsters.
“I am continuing to enjoy my cricket. Most I can do is pass on the knowledge to the youngsters.
“We will have good results if we stay as a unit. I pride myself on being a leader. The Almighty has given me talent to play cricket. So when I come out, I come out with a will to win.
“And now as captain, the will is stronger. But there were areas we need to improve on: couple of wides, a couple of no-balls…” he emphasised.
“We’ll improve on that at the Wankhede (in the decider on Wednesday).”
Man of the Match Simmons too was elated after playing another superb knock against India, just like he had shattered all Indian hopes one evening at the Wankhede, during the 2016 World T20 second semi-final.
“I like playing against India. It's always a good challenge… Haven't played international cricket for a while, so it's good to be back in the circuit and playing for the West Indies.”