Friday, March 5, 2021
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Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant excel as Men in Blue complete clean sweep

Providence (Guyana), August 7: Young Rishabh Pant finally came good under the guidance of skipper Virat Kohli as India comfortably beat West Indies by seven wickets in the third T20 International to complete a 3-0 whitewash here on Tuesday. Chasing target of 147 on a slowish deck, skipper Kohli anchored the innings to perfection with 59 off 45 balls while Pant was brilliant during his unbeaten 65 off 42 balls. The target was achieved in 19.1 overs.
A lot of credit should also go to seamer Deepak Chahar, who bowled a magnificent opening spell and ended with figures of 3 for 4 in 3 overs which went a long way in restricting the West Indies to a manageable 146 for 6.
For the home team, it is their worst streak in T20 Internationals having lost six straight games. Kohli’s 21st half-century in T20 Internationals had six fours. The shot to remember would certainly be a whipping flick off Keemo Paul to widish long-on and a couple exquisite cover drives off Carlos Brathwaite.
Pant and Kohli then came together at 27 for 2 and slowly build the innings during a stand that yielded 106 runs in 12.5 overs.
But Kohli’s bigger achievement was being able to instil a certain sense of game awareness in the youngster. Having lost his wicket due to impetuosity in the previous games, the burly left-hander was discreet in his shot selection. In company of skipper Kohli, he was ready to play himself in on a track that was two paced and outfield which was slow.
However till their 50-run stand, the duo didn’t go hammer and tongs at the Windies attack. It was the 13th over when Pant finally gave the charge, getting his first six — a flat hit over extra cover of Delhi Capitals teammate Paul’s bowling. He repeated the same shot off the same bowler and got the same result.
Pant’s second half-century in T20 Internationals came when he flicked Sheldon Cottrell for a boundary.
Once he had reached his half-century, he got on one knee and hit Oshane Thomas for his third six. He also hit four boundaries. The fourth and final six from Pant got India the winning runs.
Earlier, Deepak’s incisive swing bowling was countered by Kieron Pollard’ attacking half-century and Rovman Powell’s cameo as West Indies put up a par score of 146 for 6 after being put into bat.
The Rajasthan seamer (3-1-4-3) made full use of his only opportunity in this tour taking three wickets his first two overs to leaving West Indies tottering at 14 for 3. He got the ball to swing both ways as he removed pinch-hitter Sunil Narine (2), Evin Lewis (10) and Shimron Hetmyer (1).
However Pollard counter-attacked with great gusto hitting as many as half a dozen sixes in his 45-ball-58 — his first half-century for the West Indies in seven years.
Along with Nicholas Pooran (17), who played the second fiddle, Pollard added 67 for the fourth wicket as the Caribbean’s looked to have recovered from their initial slump.
India look to fix World Cup flaws as they return to ODI challenge
India, after having registered a clean sweep in three-match T20 International series against the West Indies, are back to the One-day International (ODI) business for the first time since the World Cup 2019. The three-match ODI series will begin at the Providence Stadium, Guyana, on Thursday. Virat Kohli, who led India to the semi-finals in his first assignment as skipper in a 50-over World Cup, will look to resolve the batting woes when the team takes up the challenge in the Caribbean island.
Shikhar Dhawan makes a comeback in the format where he has been India’s third best player after skipper Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma.
With 17 hundreds in 130 ODIs, Dhawan will rightfully take his place at the top of the order alongside Rohit and like the initial matches of the World Cup, KL Rahul is likely to go back to being the number four batsman.
With Kedar Jadhav expected to come in at No 5 or 6 depending on how Rishabh Pant is used as a floater, it will be a toss-up between Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer for the remaining middle-order slots.
Both are players with a certain amount of flair but Pandey couldn’t exactly seal it in the T20 Internationals and it’s about time that the team management would think of giving Iyer a go and see how it pans out. (PTI)

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