JAMAICA: Evin Lewis blazed his second hundred against India to lead the West Indies to a rampaging nine-wicket victory in the one-off T20 international at Sabina Park on Sunday.
Replying to the tourists’ challenging total of 190 for six, Lewis stole the spotlight from returning local hero Chris Gayle with a blistering unbeaten 125 in taking the home side to 194 for one with nine balls to spare.
It was the first T20 international hundred scored by a West Indian in the Caribbean, and puts the left-handed opener alongside Gayle and New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum as the only players to have scored more than one century in the international format of the game.
Lewis’ innings was highlighted by 12 towering sixes and six fours off only 62 deliveries.
This memorable knock came 11 months after he compiled an even 100 against the same opponents in Fort Lauderdale, where the West Indies sneaked a one-run win a high-scoring encounter.
He completely dominated an 82-run opening stand with Gayle, who fell to debutant Kuldeep Yadav for 18 in the ninth over.
Marlon Samuels then supported Lewis’ explosive innings with an assured unbeaten 36 off 29 deliveries as their unbroken second-wicket stand of 112 saw the West Indies home in the 19th over.
Lewis fittingly ended the contest with another swing for six off spinner Ravindra Jadeja to achieve the highest individual score in a T20 international chase.
“It was at the back of my mind that I didn’t get a score in the one-dayers but I just believe in backing myself and playing my style of game,” said a delighted Lewis after receiving the man-of-the-match award.
“This is a very good bowling team so any runs you get against them is really appreciated.”
As well as the 25-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago played though, India did not help their cause by twice dropping him in the deep as he approached the half-century mark, Mohammad Shami and Dinesh Karthik the culprits in the field.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni also missed a stumping chance when Gayle was on one while Samuels benefited from a couple of narrow escapes in what was an untidy effort by India in the field.
Earlier, Indian captain Virat Kohli (39 off 22 balls) and Shikhar Dhawan (23 off 12) led the charge after they were sent in to bat by Carlos Brathwaite, the pair putting on 64 for the first wicket until both fell in the sixth over of the innings to Kesrick Williams.
In just his second T20 international, Rishabh Pant struggled to get going but it was the experienced Karthik who dominated an 86-run third-wicket stand before he fell for 48, bowled behind his legs by Samuels.
His innings occupied just 29 deliveries and included three sixes and five fours.
Despite his dismissal at 151 for three in the 16th over, India still looked on course for a total in excess of 200.
However Jerome Taylor removed both Dhoni and Pant (38 off 35 balls) off successive deliveries, while Williams claimed his second wicket when he accounted for Kedar Jadhav via a fine diving catch by Sunil Narine coming off the backward-point boundary.
“We fell about 30 runs short with the bat and if you don’t grab your chances in the field you don’t deserve to win,” said an obviously disappointed Kohli.
“Someone at the top of the order should have gotten at least 80-90 to take us up to 220-plus. But all these games are good indicators as to how some our guys respond to pressure situations.”
Despite being outplayed 3-1 in the preceding one-day international series, there is a sense of anticipation for the return of Gayle, the big-hitting opening batsman whose last appearance for the regional side was at the World T20 final against England in Kolkata 15 months ago.
India were forced to make a late change to their 11 as all-rounder Hardik Pandya picked up an injury in the morning warm-ups with Jadeja taking his place.