After a tightly fought ODI series, the 5-match T20I series between West Indies and India started with the tourists comfortably brushing aside the hosts by 68 runs. The first Men’s T20I at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba saw the record T20 score at the venue. India’s 190 was probably 30 runs more than the par score on that surface but eventually, it turned out to be 68 too many. A superlative start from Rohit Sharma laid a perfect platform for India’s finisher, Dinesh Karthik, who launched a stunning finishing blow. On a slow surface, India picked three spinners, and they combined to pick five wickets. We take a look at some stats and talking points from the 1st T20I.
India’s juggling of players
The biggest talking points at the start of the match were the exclusion of Deepak Hooda and the changing of opening batters. Rishabh Pant, who opened with Sharma in England in India’s last T20I, was expected to continue the opener’s role, especially with Ishan Kishan out of the team. However, India surprised everyone when Suryakumar Yadav (SKY) walked out with Sharma to open the batting.
SKY has been one of India’s best T20I batters batting at #3-4. He might have fared decently, but this chop and change of India’s personnel and batting positions are, at times, not so easy to understand. India’s stubborn attitude towards not divulging any team-plans-related details only raises more speculations around their surprising moves.
Spinning a web
India surprised a lot of people by stacking their playing XI with three spinners, although all bowl different kinds of spin. It proved to be the right move as the slow nature of the surface assisted the spinners. West Indies’ best bowler was their left-arm orthodox bowler, Akeal Hosein, who choked the Indian batting at the start with a brilliant spell of 1/14 off his four overs.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi, both picked two wickets each. Ravindra Jadeja also got a wicket in his first over of the match. The Indian spinners combined to pick figures of 5/74 from 12 overs at 6.16 RPO. It was very rare to see three specialist spinners in a limited-overs game, especially outside of the subcontinent.
India’s batting approach
India’s approach to T20 batting in 2022 has been extremely refreshing. In 17 matches this year, their average run rate has been 9.46 RPO. It is the highest for any team with a minimum of 10 matches (Full Members only). New Zealand’s run rate is 10.21, but they’ve only played five matches, which is a small sample size.
India’s run rate for this year is also their highest in any calendar year where they’ve played at least two T20I. India have often failed to utilise their full resources by adopting a conservative approach in this format. But this year, all players have been consciously trying to accelerate much earlier rather than preserving wickets for a late onslaught.
Karthik’s 19-ball unbeaten 41 took India way beyond the par score. Sharma’s first T20I fifty of this year would provide a lot of relief to the team and fans alike. India dominated the match and didn’t allow West Indies to take control at any stage. In a long series, a performance like this augurs well for the tourists.