India suffered a five-wicket defeat to West Indies in the second ODI of the five-match T20I series at Warner Park in St Kitts. India were skittled out for 138 after being asked to bat first, and they did well to drag the game till the last over but couldn’t defend the target. 

Even though West Indies kept losing regular wickets, Brandon King stood tall on the other end, playing a very composed knock of 68. The target allowed King to get settled on the crease, and the boundaries too came thick and fast. At one point, it looked like West Indies will cruise through the target, but they made a meal out of morsel. 

Ravindra Jadeja provided a timely breakthrough by getting rid of Shimron Hetmyer, which reduced the visitors to 83/3. Two overs later, Avesh Khan hit King through the gate to break open the game. With new batters on the crease, and the collapse-prone batting unit in front of them, the game was far from done. 

With 16 needed off the last two overs, Arshdeep Sing was tasked to bowl the penultimate over. Arshdeep nailed a toe-crushing yorker to remove the dangerous Rovman Powell on the second ball. In the next four overs he hardly missed his mark and conceded just five rubs, leaving 10 runs to defend for the final over.

While everyone expected Bhuvneshwar Kumar to bowl the last over, the skipper Rohit Sharma threw a surprise by handing the ball to Avesh Khan. Odean Smith squeezed the first ball to long-off to bring Devon Thomas on the strike. Just when Avesh was about to begin his run-up, the umpire signalled a no-ball. 

For the free hit delivery, Avesh banged in short and away from the off stump, forcing Thomas to clear the longest side of the boundary. But Thomas whacked it with enough power to send the ball soaring over the extra cover region. He then finished the game with a four on the next ball.

Soon the focus shifted to Rohit, who was asked to explain his decision to hold back the most experienced bowler – Buvneshwar – for the most important over of the game. There was some logic to the move, given that Avesh offers the skillset to exploit the bouncy conditions on offer yesterday. Most of the Indian batters, including Rohit Sharma, struggled to negate the extra bounce.

Rohit, however, explained that it’s important to give chances to youngsters to bowl in crunch situations. “We know what Bhuvi does for us; he has been doing it for years. Unless you give chances to guys like Avesh and Arshdeep you’ll never know,” Rohit said.

“But it is just one game. They have the skills and the talent and it is all about backing them. I am really proud of the bowlers and the team. Targets such as these can get over in 13-14 overs but we dragged it to the last over. I thought the guys executed the plans and really happy with the way the guys bowled,” he added.

Featured Image Credit: Avesh Khan/Instagram