Sun, 19 Jan 2020

Simmons leads batting charge as West Indies level series

ESPNCricInfo
09 Dec 2019, 04:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

West Indies 173 for 2 (Simmons 67*, Lewis 40, Pooran 38*) beat India 170 for 7 (Dube 54, Pant 33*, Walsh 2-28, Williams 2-30) by 8 wickets

West Indies managed to slow India down enough in the second half of their innings to set up an eventually easy chase in the dew. On a slow surface, it might have appeared India had done well to reach 170, but the dew had a significant say with the ball beginning to skid on in the night. Lendl Simmons saw the chase through with 67* off 45 but not without powerful assists from three left-hand batsmen who negated India's spinners: Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran. Between them, the three left-hand batsmen made 101 off 57 balls.

Like West Indies were with the wides in the first game, India were profligate in the field. Both Simmons and Lewis were dropped before they got going, and ground fielders also let more than a couple of balls slip through their hands in dewy conditions.

Signs of slow pitch

Sheldon Cottrell got off to an ordinary start with six runs off wides in the first over, but signs were there that this was a slow pitch not conducive for power hitting. Khary Pierre and Cottrell built the pressure with two tight overs, and that resulted in a slog from KL Rahul. India 24 for 1 after 3.1 overs.

Dube walks out

For the first time in official cricket, Shivam Dube walked out to bat at No. 3, possibly to try to hit out on a difficult pitch without risking a more accomplished batsman such as Virat Kohli. Sure enough Dube made the kind of start Kohli made in Hyderabad, struggling for timing as West Indies looked to bowl into the pitch and use changes of pace. The struggle was not exclusive to Dube, though: Rohit Sharma didn't like the slowness of the pitch either and got out for 15 off 18 trying to play a ramp off Jason Holder.

Pollard gets greedy?

It was a funky piece of captaincy when Kieron Pollard brought himself on in the seventh over. Data would tell you to bowl Hayden Walsh's legspin against Rohit Sharma. On this pitch, though, Pollard's cutters into the pitch worked, and he conceded just three. Then he gave himself another over, and Dube had by now got used to the pace of the pitch. He hit three sixes in Pollard's over, but there was a byplay involved. After being hooked for a six, Pollard switched to bowling wide outside Dube's reach. A harsh second wide call meant Pollard changed his plans, and Dube made full use of it. Did Pollard get greedy or was he protecting his spinners against the left-hand hitter?

In the next over, Dube brought up his maiden international 50. India 93 for 2 after 10.

Walsh and Williams turn it around

Brought on belatedly, Walsh made an immediate impact with the wicket of Dube third ball. Kesrick Williams had his own back on Kohli after the notebook came flying at him in the first match. He saw Kohli run down the wicket, ran his fingers on the ball, and had him caught at short third man. This time he used his finger to shush everyone up.

Rishabh Pant found a way to score 33* off 22 on this slow pitch, but around him West Indies managed to apply the choke on. Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar all fell trying to force the pace. Between them Williams and Walsh conceded 58 in eight overs for four wickets. Only 26 came off the last four, 77 off the last 10.

Spillage

The chase got off to a tense start with the new ball sitting in the surface. Even Washington managed to turn the new ball. It is never a good sign when you are chasing, but the dew was the wildcard here. Even before the wildcard could be drawn, the openers felt the pressure to try low-percentage shots. They were 23 after four overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, playing for a World Cup spot, charged in. His knuckle ball drew the mis-hit from Simmons, but Washington dropped the skier at mid-off. Two balls later, Pant reprieved Lewis. This was a difficult chance because the batsman had backed away, the bowler had followed him, and the keeper had to be heading down the leg side. But Pant did get both hands to it, and failed to cushion it as he came down, with the ball spilling out. Kohli, fielding at the boundary, was seen telling the crowd off for their reaction to yet another wicketkeeping error from Pant.

Flood gates open

That was just the luck West Indies needed. Starting next over, the bats kept swinging and connecting sweetly. All but one of the next 14 overs produced at least one boundary. That one over was when Washington finally got the better of Lewis, building dots and then getting the eventual stumping. This was the 10th over, and India had yet to use Jadeja on a surface that was likely to help him. The reason for it was the presence of Lewis. So they took the cue, and dropped Brandon King down the order, letting the left-hand batsmen play havoc.

Hetmyer took five balls to hit his first six, Pooran took three. Neither Yuzvendra Chahal nor Jadeja was effective on what had now become a skiddy surface thanks to the dew. And the ball travelled off the bat. West Indies continued to bat smartly. Simmons did hit one six off Chahal, but other than that he was happy to let the left-hand batsmen take strike against bowlers who turn the ball away from right-hand batsmen. Against offspin and pace, Simmons was brutal.

By the time India went back to pace, West Indies needed 44 off the last five overs. Pooran took apart Bhuvneshwar's comeback over, settling the chase then and there. Finishing touches were applied smoothly.

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