Skipper Virat Kohli led the sixes charge with seven hits over the fence to set up India’s series-clinching 67-run win over the West Indies in the third Twenty20 international yesterday.
Rohit Sharma, K L Rahul and Kohli, who smashed an unbeaten 70 off 29 balls, combined to hit 16 sixes between them as the hosts posted 240 for three in Mumbai.
The Indian bowlers then kept the West Indies to 173 for eight to win the three-match series 2-1.
Sharma, who hit 71, and Rahul, who top-scored with 91, put on 135 runs for the opening wicket to lay the platform for India’s imposing total.
Kohli, who was named man of the series for his 183 runs and a career-best 94 not out in the opening win, soon joined the party to flay the West Indies attack as he completed his fifty in just 21 balls.
“I had the opportunity to do something different, which I don’t usually do,” Kohli said of his slam-bang innings.
“I told KL to stay on till the end, and said I’ll try and smash a few... I’m trying to be able to play like this as well. You have to do it out there in the middle to gain confidence from it.
“I think two guys in the middle with clarity, the way Rahul and Rohit played today, that is key. Batting first (earlier), we’ve been too tight and hesitant, should we go for it, should we not.”
Kohli and Sharma will end the year at the top of the batting charts with 2,633 runs each in all T20 cricket.
West Indies slipped to 17-3 and were forever playing catch-up with the towering run-rate despite a valiant 39-ball 68 from skipper Kieron Pollard who hit six off the 12 maximums in the chase.
Pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohamed Shami, Deepak Chahar and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav claimed two wickets each. “Hitman” Sharma led the batting onslaught with an attacking fifty that was brought about with two sixes and a boundary, delighting the home crowd.
Sharma became the first Indian batsman to hit over 400 international sixes with his first of five strikes over the fence. West Indies’ Chris Gayle leads the sixes show with 534 across all three formats. He finally fell while attempting another big heave to be caught by Hayden Walsh Jr off Kesrick Williams.
Four balls later, Pollard got wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant trudging back to the pavilion for nought to check India’s surge but Rahul remained firm. Rahul, who completed his third fifty in four T20I innings and hit four sixes in his 56-ball knock, then put on 95 runs with Kohli before getting out in the last over.
West Indies also suffered an injury blow after Evin Lewis hurt his right knee while fielding and did not return to bat with the team management saying the opening batsman has “soft tissue damage”.
“There’s a lot of emerging players coming through. Yes, the bowling is a concern, but we have a roster of guys coming through,” said Pollard.
“Those are the areas, but we know success is a boring thing, you need to do the right things day in and day out. Yes, we lost 2-1, but we have three more games to look forward to in the ODIs.”
The two teams will next play three one-day internationals on December 15 (Chennai), December 18 (Visakhapatnam) and December 22 (Cuttack).
India 240 for 3 (Rahul 91, Sharma 71, Kohli 70) beat West Indies 173 for 8 (Pollard 68, Chahar 2-20, Shami 2-25) by 67 runs.
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