West Indies shackled by swing and spin
In Twenty20 cricket, West Indies are often known to start slowly with the bat and look to preserve wickets, banking on their big hitters to make up with rapid scoring later in the innings. Against India, their openers began slowly yet again, but this time it might not have been entirely out of choice. India bowled beautifully with the new ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in particular, swung the ball both ways and will wonder how he ended up with no wickets.
Against this sort of bowling, the openers struggled to put bat to ball. Bhuvneshwar had Dwayne Smith tied down for 15 deliveries, conceding just one run. Chris Gayle faced three deliveries from the medium-pacer, taking just a single. That is 18 deliveries within the Powerplay that brought West Indies three runs, which included a wide.
Having just watched impressive young batsmen like Umar Akmal and Glenn Maxwell enliven the Sunday afternoon, the Mirpur crowd had been waiting to see how Gayle and Smith, established T20 stars, would go about attacking the Indian bowlers. Instead, they got to see a struggle.
West Indies' run rate didn't go up by all that much even after Bhuvneshwar went out of the attack. It didn't help them that Gayle was run out just when he was starting to warm up, having hit Mohammed Shami and Amit Mishra for sixes over wide-ish long on.
But those two blows were all West Indies could muster, and you sensed that previous successes with a go-slow strategy at the start may have been at the back of the batsmen's minds. There was no attempt to go after the Indian bowlers, and even Suresh Raina managed to get through two quiet overs.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy gave credit to Bhuvneshwar for bowling 16 dot balls in the Powerplay overs. He did say, though, that West Indies would need to play the spinners with much more authority.
"I think credit must go to the opening bowler," Sammy said. "Kumar swung the ball both ways and bowled in good areas. He kept two of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket quiet. There is no need to panic for us, it is just one wrong.
"We have three more games left, and we back ourselves to win them. I think we just didn't respond well enough to their spinners. We have a strong feeling that we will meet again, and we are looking forward to that."
India wouldn't have dreamt up a start like this but Suresh Raina did say in the pre-match press conference that West Indies bank more on hitting sixes rather than rotating the strike. This probably is an off-shoot of their usual strategy to start slowly and look for big hits in the later overs. This happened in the 2012 World T20 as well, both in the semi-final against Australia and the final against Sri Lanka.
In the semi-final, Gayle exploded after starting slowly in the first 10 overs while in the final, Marlon Samuels played one of the greatest innings in this format to bail them out. On both occasions, one batsman made it big while others contributed with rapid runs in the end overs.
That didn't happen today. They lost too many wickets in the middle overs, so they never got any momentum going. Their start, thanks to Bhuvneshwar, was even slower than it normally would have been.
Lendl Simmons and Sunil Narine hit three sixes in the last over while Andre Russell hit one in the 18th over. West Indies' average RPO in the first six overs is 6.95, but it was exactly 4.00 in this game. They came close to matching their average RPO of the last five overs in this game, but fell short of a competitive total.
What all of this showed was wickets in hand usually helps for a final push. Today West Indies neither had wickets, nor the runs at the start.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here