Rohit Sharma broke the world record tally of sixes in Twenty20 Internationals as India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 International series vs West Indies. (Image credit: ICC Twitter)
Over the last couple of seasons, Rohit Sharma has emerged as a six-hitting machine in the limited-overs format of the game. Rohit is the leading six-hitter for India in ODIs and he was one of three players to have amassed over 100 sixes in Twenty20 Internationals also. Heading into the second match, Rohit needed just two more sixes to overtake Chris Gayle’s world record tally of 105 sixes. The right-hander broke the record and in the process notched up his 17th fifty. Rohit’s fifty, combined with some disciplined bowling from Krunal Pandya and rain gave India victory by 22 runs via DLS method and also helped them take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
On the same strip where West Indies struggled to 95/9, India chose to bat and immediately, they were boosted by some fine batting from Rohit. The Mumbai batsman tied the sixes record by flicking Oshane Thomas to the deep midwicket and then broke it in style when he hammered Sunil Narine over the deep midwicket fence to become the ultimate six-hitter in the shortest format of the game.
At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan struck some boundaries but continued to look rusty. Dhawan and Rohit notched up their ninth fifty-plus opening stand but Keemo Paul broke the partnership when he cleaned up Dhawan for 23. Skipper Virat Kohli started slowly but broke the shackles with a straight six off Khary Pierre. As Rohit went past his fifty, his aggression went up a notch as he blasted a six and a four off Carlos Brathwaite.
Heading into the final overs, India had the momentum but West Indies struck back with some big blows. Rohit was caught by Shimron Hetmyer as the batsman mistimed a heave to the leg side. Rishabh Pant’s poor Twenty20 form continued when he upper-cut Oshane Thomas to third man and was caught. Sheldon Cottrell pegged India back further with the wickets of Kohli and Manish Pandey but Krunal Pandya ended the innings with a flourish by hammering two sixes in the final over bowled by Keemo Paul. Ravindra Jadeja also hit a six and with 19 runs coming off the 20th over, India had reached a healthy score of 167/5.
In response, West Indies started poorly. Evin Lewis, for the second time in the series, was undone by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s knuckle ball and chipped it back to the bowler who took a smart, diving catch to send him back for his second straight duck. Narine, who has achieved success while opening the batting with Kolkata Knight Riders, struggled and was sent back by Washington Sundar for 4.
Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran steadied the ship, with Powell targeting Navdeep Saini for a couple of boundaries in the sixth over. Powell also targeted Khaleel Ahmed when he smashed a six and a four and more punishment was dished out to Saini with two back-to-back fours in the eighth over. When Powell smashed a six off Krunal Pandya, West Indies had gained momentum but India pegged things back with a couple of tight overs.
Powell notched up his second fifty but the game turned in the 14th over bowled by Krunal. Pooran mistimed a lofted shot and Manish Pandey took a smart catch at the long on fence and the contest was in India’s grasp when Powell played down the wrong line to a quicker arm ball and was trapped in front for 54. Kieron Pollard and Shimron Hetmyer were at the crease when the rain came and erased all hopes of a Windies revival.
This was India’s fifth straight win against the Windies in this format and it was their first series win in the Caribbean since the one-off Twenty20 International win in 2011. Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team could not have started their post-World Cup journey on a better note.