Windies T20 series hopes evaporate amidst India onslaught

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Kieron Pollard goes long during his half-century against India in yesterday’s third T20 International.

MUMBAI, India (CMC) – West Indies’ bid for a rare series win fizzled under the weight of an enormous run chase as India pulled off a convincing 67-run victory in yesterday’s third Twenty20 International to clinch a 2-1 verdict in the three-match series.

Faced with a record run chase of 241 for victory at the Wankhede Stadium, West Indies ended on 173 for eight off their 20 overs, to suffer their eighth defeat in nine T20s to India and also notch their third successive series defeat to the sub-continental powerhouses.

Captain Kieron Pollard belted his second half-century in six innings when he top-scored with 68 from 39 balls but his demise at the end of the 15th over saw the Caribbean side’s slim hopes also disappear with him.

Left-hander Shimron Hetmyer gave support with a 24-ball 41 but no other top order batsman reached double figures.

Opener Evin Lewis was ruled out of the game after sustaining soft tissue damage to his right knee while fielding, leaving West Indies short of a key batsman.

Asked to bat earlier, India stormed to their third highest total in T20 Internationals behind Man-of-the-Match KL Rahul’s scintillating 91 and additional half-centuries from fellow opener Rohit Sharma (71) and captain Virat Kohli (70 not out).

Entering the contest with the series in the balance, India unleashed a punishing onslaught up front with Rahul and Rohit plundering 72 from the first power-play, as they put on a rollicking 135 off just 70 deliveries for the first wicket.

Rahul struck nine fours and four sixes in a 56-ball knock, reaching his half-century off 29 balls with a single at the start of the 10th over, before perishing in the final over to a catch at the wicket, trying to pull a short one from left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell.

Rohit, meanwhile, belted half-dozen fours and five sixes in a 34-ball cameo, raising his 19th T20 fifty with the second of two consecutive sixes off left-arm spinner Khary Pierre in the eighth over which leaked 21 runs.

When he finally scooped seamer Kesrick Williams to Hayden Walsh at deep mid-wicket in the 12th over, India stumbled when Rishabh Pant fell without scoring five balls later with three runs added, holing out to long off, off Pollard’s slow medium.

However, Man-of-the-Series Kohli arrived to produce another magical innings, pummelling four fours and seven sixes in a 29-ball knock as he inspired a 95-run, third-wicket stand with Rahul.

He nearly single-handedly took 22 runs from the 15th over bowled by pacer Jason Holder then smashed another  27 runs from the penultimate over from Pollard, belting three sixes and a four to race to his fifty off just 21 balls.

Needing to score at just over 12 runs per over, West Indies had a less than stellar start, losing Brandon King (5), Lendl Simmons (7) and Nicholas Pooran (0) to swiftly tumble to 17 for three in the fourth over.

Pollard and Hetmyer then stitched up the innings in a 74-run fourth-wicket stand which kept West Indies’ hopes of victory alive.

After managing a single run from his first seven balls, Pollard exploded to lash five fours and half-dozen sixes, bringing up his fifty off 33 balls in the 14th over with a boundary to wide long on, off left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav (2-45).

Hetmyer, meanwhile, punched a four and five sixes, and had cleared the ropes twice in succession with Kuldeep in the 10th over when he smashed a full toss to long on, going for a third six.

Holder (8) was caught in the deep in Kuldeep’s next over and even though Pollard kept the chase alive by adding 38 for the sixth with Walsh (11), the asking rate of 17 proved burdensome.