A BRILLIANT 67 from Nicholas Pooran eclipsed a maiden international half-cnetury from Tilak Varma as the West Indies edged their way to a dramatic two-wicket win over India in the second T20I in Guyana on Sunday (6).
India struggled to 152-7 after winning the toss and batting first and, in spite of Pooran, appeared to be heading for victory when the West Indies lost four wickets for three runs to slip to 129-8.
However, tailenders Alzarri Joseph and Akeal Hosein kept their cool and slogged the winning runs to see the West Indies home with seven balls to spare.
“We always knew it was going to come down to how we batted against spin,” said West Indies captain Rovman Powell.
“It shows cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.”
After winning Thursday’s (3) opener in Tarouba by four runs, West Indies take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
The 20-year-old Varma, who helped light up the IPL with 343 runs for the Mumbai Indians this season, made 51 from 41 balls before clipping left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein to fine leg where Obed McCoy pouched the catch.
Varma came to the crease in the fourth over after Shubman Gill was caught at third man off Joseph and Suryakumar Yadav, playing his 50th T20I, was run out by a direct hit from Kyle Mayers to leave India on 18 for two.
Varma added 42 for the third wicket with Ishan Kishan before the opener was bowled by Romario Shepherd for 27.
After the dismissal of Varma, who hit five fours and one six in his 51, it was left to skipper Hardik Pandya with 24 from 18 balls to drag the Indians towards a half-decent target.
“That was not a pleasing batting performance by us,” said Pandya. “The wickets were falling and the track was on the slower side. We were not good enough to get to 160 plus.”
The West Indies made the worst possible start as Pandya removed Brandon King and Johnson Charles in the first four balls of their reply.
Pooran, however, quickly found his range clubbing six fours and four sixes in his 40-ball 67.
“The way he batted from two for two, it was incredible,” admitted Pandya.
Mayers (15) and Powell (21) offered some support and the West Indies appeared to be in control until Pooran hammered Mukesh Kumar to Samson in the covers.
From 126-4, the West Indies lost four wickets for just three runs, three of them in the 16th over delivered by Yuzvendra Chahal.
The third of those saw Shimron Hetmyer eighth man out, leg before on review for 22.
At 129-8, they still needed 24 from the last four overs with just two wickets remaining. Joseph and Hosein, however, edged them to victory.
The tourists won the preceding two-Test series 1-0 before beating the West Indies 2-1 in the ODIs.