in his second-last T20I
against India: 100 off 49. Evin Lewis in the whole ODI series against India: 67 off 121. Evin Lewis back in this T20I against India: 125 not out off 62 balls, including 12 disdainful sixes. Despite just 54 off 49 coming from the other end, Lewis carried world champions West Indies through in a chase of 191, which they finished with nine balls to spare. His innings was the highest score in a T20I chase.
It should have been a bigger chase after the start India got - 64 for the opening stand between Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan in 5.3 overs - but India couldn't find a finishing kick with Rishabh Pant getting stuck for a slow innings of 38 off 35. India didn't help their cause as they dropped Lewis on 46 and 55.
India's thrust against West Indies' rust
Expectedly West Indies put India in after winning the toss, and expectedly India laid out the big guns upfront. West Indies made the errors up front. Their opening bowlers, Samuel Badree and Jerome Taylor, haven't played much cricket of late, and it showed. Badree is a highly successful T20 bowler because of the hard lengths he bowls: neither drivable nor pullable or cuttable. Here, though, he bowled too short, and both the openers tucked in, taking three fours in the first over. Taylor started too straight with fine leg up, and he too went for three fours in his first over. India's 50 came up in the fifth over.
Kesrick Williams already has one big Indian scalp to his name, that of MS Dhoni in the tense win in the ODI in Antigua
. Here he began India's slowdown even though Kohli hit him for six and four off the first two balls of the sixth over. His deceptive slower ball, which even Dhoni failed to pick, drew the catch from Kohli's bat, and then came out his celebration. He stopped mid-pitch, pulled out an imaginary notebook from his pocket, flipped its imaginary pages, plucked one of those out, folded it and kept it in his pocket.
More celebrations were in store as two balls later, he saw Dhawan half way up the wicket with nowhere to go. Williams took aim and knocked back the stumps at the non-striker's end. India were now 66 for 2 in six overs.
Pant struggles in the middle
No other young talent has had seasoned observers of Indian cricket as excited in recent times as Pant. India delayed his introduction into ODI cricket to after Champions Trophy, but even during the ODIs in the West Indies, he was not given a chance. With every passing game, fans got frustrated. Finally when Pant got his chance - in this one-off T20I - he found himself a little like a deer in the headlights. The start was inauspicious enough: the first ball he faced, he nudged to leg, set off for a run, and a couple of strides in realised Williams had been quick to reach the ball. Dhawan gone.
Then even as Dinesh Karthik, playing his first T20I in seven years, found a way to bat fluently against West Indies' spinners, Pant just couldn't find a way to break free. He tried big hits against both spin and pace, but he could neither hit out nor get out. He endured a blow on the shoulder too. This innings was reminiscent of how a young Ravindra Jadeja struggled when promoted in a World T20 innings in England in 2009
Once Karthik gave up his stumps once too often and was bowled behind his legs, India were up against it with a suspect lower-middle order to follow. India 151 for 3 in the 16th over.
The veteran Taylor came back to shut India out. He got Dhoni - on whom the onus rested now - with a cleverly disguised slower ball, and poor Pant tried a desperate reverse ramp next ball. Jadeja denied Taylor the hat-trick, but West Indies had caused enough damage to deny India any momentum in the second half of the innings. Only four boundaries came in the last six overs.
On a flat pitch with no assistance for bowlers, Lewis unleashed some majestic hitting. He kept his head down and kept swinging at those balls pitched in his swinging arc. No bowler survived his merciless hitting. There was a certain disdain to how he kept clearing fields. It was a slightly high-risk innings, which meant there were chances created. The first one was off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. On a blustery day with loud vuvuzelas in the stand, India either forgot calling or failed to hear the calling. Mohammed Shami came in the way of Kohli who had run in from long-off, and forced a drop. In the next over, three men converged towards Karthik at long-off; once it was established that it was his catch, he failed to adjust to the late swirl. To make matters worse, Dhoni had earlier missed a stumping.
Lewis then went back to hitting sixes and decimating the Indian attack, which never looked like defending 190.