The return of international cricket to the United States brought a flurry of boundaries and a nail-biting finish in front of a gripped and packed crowd in Lauderhill, Florida on Saturday. For those who missed it, fear not, India and West Indies will do it all again on Sunday.
The West Indies drew first blood in the two-match Twenty20 international series, winning a record high-scoring match by a single run after Dwayne Bravo outwitted India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni with the final ball of a thrilling contest.
In a breathless few hours at the sold-out 20,000-capacity Central Broward Regional Park, 489 runs were scored, smashing the record not just for T20 internationals, but any 20-over-a-side contest. Evin Lewis, standing in for Chris Gayle, who was ruled out of the opening match through injury, scored 100 of those, including nine of the match’s 32 sixes, another record in T20Is. Lewis almost managed another first, when hitting five sixes off the first five balls of the 11th over off the bowling of Stuart Binny, only to have to settle for a single off the final ball.
The West Indies finished with a total of 245, leaving India having to pull off what would have been the largest run chase in T20 history. But how close they came.
KL Rahul, in the side in place of Shikhar Dhawan, kept the runs flowing with the second fastest century in T20I history off just 46 balls. And when one of cricket’s all-time great finishers, Dhoni, joined him at the crease and started firing, the win, improbably, appeared there for India’s taking.
But, while this was a match when the run-scoring made the headlines, the bowlers also had their say. India’s death bowling prevented the West Indies from setting a completely unmanageable target, and it took an inspired final over from Bravo to get his team over the line.
A modest eight runs were required as Bravo collected the ball to bowl the last six deliveries of a pulsating contest. And, after Marlon Samuels somehow dropped Dhoni off the first ball, India’s veteran captain was left needing just two from the final delivery to win and only one to force a decisive Super Over.
Instead Bravo caught Dhoni out with a slower delivery that saw the Indian skipper slice a shot to Samuels, who this time took the catch.
For the West Indies, it was the perfect way to move on from a dispiriting 2-0 Test series defeat to India in the Caribbean. And it was an ideal start to for new captain Carlos Brathwaite, whose charges backed up their standing as World T20 champion.
If the West Indies can now sweep the series on Sunday, they would move above India and into second place on the International Cricket Council’s T20 rankings.
Still, even India’s captain was largely positive after a match that was an ideal advertisement for cricket in the U.S. It was the first time since 2012 that the country has hosted an international and the first time India had ever played an international in the U.S..
“To talk about the facilities, it’s as good as anywhere,” Dhoni said afterward. “The ground itself is up to the international standard, the wicket was good, you can’t score 500 runs on a bad wicket, so a fantastic wicket. Overall looking at everything as a complete package, i think it was fantastic. We had fun.”
West Indies vs. India 2nd T20I
Match Time: 10 a.m. EDT
Live Stream: Yupp TV