When Kieron Pollard won the toss and chose to field, Virat Kohli was worried. The trend at the Wankhede stadium when it came to Twenty20 Internationals was that teams batting second in seven games had won six games and lost just one. The memories of 2016, in which India could not defend 192 in the World T20 semi-final was still fresh. However, KL Rahul's blazing 91 and Rohit Sharma's aggressive 71, backed by an unbelievable blitz of 70 from 29 balls by Virat Kohli helped India reverse the trend in Wankhede as they won the third and deciding Twenty20 International on Wednesday by 67 runs to clinch the three-match series 2-1.
It was a powerful exhibition from the Indian top order and this was needed against a West Indies team that hit sixes in this format for fun. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul started off with a couple of boundaries and the carnage began in the third over. Rohit blasted two sixes and a four, with the first six making him the third player after Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi to smash 400 international sixes combined in cricket. Rahul decided to go toe-for-toe with Rohit and he smashed a boundary off Jason Holder and upper-cut a short ball to third man. Kharry Pierre was greeted by a six from Rohit and it required a stunning effort from Evin Lewis to prevent the second six.
Kesrick Williams was greeted with two fours and a six as India ended the powerplay with 72 runs. The flow of runs did not end after the powerplay with Pierre being hit for two sixes and a four. The second six gave Rohit his 19th fifty and India crossed 100 in just the eighth over.
Spinners or pacers, everybody was taken to the cleaners. Rahul also hit his fifty and he raised the gear with a four and a six off Hayden Walsh. Rohit miscued a slog to deep midwicket as West Indies ended the opening partnership at 132, which was India's best against the West Indies. West Indies seemed to have fought back when Rishabh Pant's struggles continued when Kieron Pollard dismissed him for a two-ball duck. West Indies were proven wrong as in stepped Kohli.
The Indian skipper began with a slog sweep to long on off Walsh. Rahul neared his century with a six off Holder and West Indies missed a chance to run him out when Holder missed with the throw at the bowler's end. Kohli, though, was in a different tangent. He blasted two fours and six off Holder. West Indies tried to pull things back but the boundaries kept coming. Rahul and Kohli both hit a six off Williams but in the 19th over, the carnage reached a crescendo. Kohli blasted two sixes and notched up his fastest-ever fifty off just 21 balls. He backed it up with a four and a six as Pollard went for 27 runs in the 19th over. Rahul missed a chance for a century when he top-edged a short ball from Sheldon Cottrell but Kohli emphatically made a statement when he smashed a six off the last ball as India ended on 240/3, their highest score at the Wankhede.
West Indies Totter
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Deepak Chahar struck within the powerplay to remove Brandon King, Lendl Simmons and Nicholas Pooran. The catch by Shivam Dube off Pooran was special when he tumbled to his left after making the hard strides. Shimron Hetmyer hit two sixes off Shami and Pollard hammered a six off Bhuvneshwar as West Indies ended the powerplay on 41/3. The loss of three wickets, combined with Evin Lewis' injury which rendered him unable to bat, badly hurt the West Indies. Hetmyer and Pollard kept the chase alive by hitting sixes at will.
The left-handed Hetmyer neared a fifty with two consecutive sixes off Kuldeep Yadav but in the quest for a third six, he mistimed a full toss on leg stump to KL Rahul at wide long on to fall for 41. Kuldeep got his second when Holder perished after playing some good shots. Pollard, though, kept the game alive and he struck sixes at will.
Bhuvneshwar and Kuldeep were the prime targets but with the run-rate nearing 19, it was an uphill task. When Pollard smashed a six and two fours off Bhuvneshwar, West Indies needed less than 100 but when he pulled a short ball from the bowler to be caught at deep midwicket by Ravindra Jadeja, the game was sealed.