Rishabh Pant and skipper Rohit Sharma missed out on big knocks but made useful enough contributions to propel India to 191 for 5 in the fourth T20I against West Indies on Saturday. Rohit (33 off 16 balls) and Pant (44 off 31 balls) were the main contributors while Axar Patel struck some meaty blows towards the end to finish unbeaten on 20 off 8 balls.
Sanju Samson was more subdued during his 30 not out off 23 balls, often failing to find the boundaries, which prevented India from reaching 200. For West Indies left-arm pacer Obed McCoy, cricket indeed turned out to be a great leveller as he was smoked for 66 runs off his 4 overs only a week after he had taken a career-best six-wicket haul in the second ODI. It was the most expensive spell by a West Indies bowler in T20Is.
Rohit’s new approach in powerplay might not have produced many big knocks save a half-century but he is certainly showing the way with positive intent upfront. McCoy went for three sixes and 25 runs in an over. In those three, Rohit had a couple — a pull over deep mid-wicket and a flat one over long-off.
The one that got him maximum cheers was a slog-swept six off Akeal Hosein (1/28 in 4 overs), but in the very next delivery, which was a tad slower and the length slightly shorter, brought about his downfall. But Rohit’s 33 in a stand of 53 in less than five overs set the tone and gave other batters time and confidence to go after the bowling.
The tendency to preserve wickets and then go after bowling, which has been a bane of Indian T20 teams of the recent past, isn’t visible anymore. The cushion of the strike-rate gave Pant and Deepak Hooda (21 off 19 balls) close to six overs to produce a 47-run stand, which was the launch-pad for the final flourish from Axar.