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Rahul's ton in vain as Windies stop India by 1 run in first T20I held in Florida

BCCI Instagram photo of Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Virat Kohli.

Lauderhill (US), Aug 27 (IANS) Promising batsman Lokesh Rahul’s 110 not out went in vain as West Indies managed to defeat India by one run in the nail-biting first T20 International at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground here on Saturday.

With India needing 2 runs from the final ball, West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo kept his nerves to dismiss Mahendra Singh Dhoni (43) with a slower one to take the Caribbean side home.

Chasing a mammoth 246, Rahul struck the second fastest century in T20 Internationals to guide India to an almost improbable win before the last ball twist changed the fortunes of the men in blue.

With the century, the Karnataka batsman has now become the third Indian to score a century in all three formats of the game.

The 24-year-old Rahul, who was preferred over regular opener Shikhar Dhawan for the match, made the most of the opportunity, bringing up 89 runs for the third wicket with Rohit Sharma (62) before almost guiding the team to victory with a 107-run stand with Dhoni.

Earlier, India were off to a disappointing start losing the key wickets of opener Ajinkya Rahane (7) and Test skipper Virat Kohli (16) cheaply, until Sharma was joined by Rahul and their 89-run stand for the third wicket provided momentum for the chase.

The Mumbai batsman’s innings was laced with four boundaries and as many sixes, including the three consecutive maximums off tweaker Sunil Narine, before being caught by Johnson Charles at deep midwicket off Keiron Pollard in the 12th over.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni then joined Rahul, who by now got to his half century off 26 balls and the duo took the attack to the opposition.

West Indies also paid the price for giving Rahul another chance on 38 when skipper Carlos Brathwaite dropped him at long off off Andre Russell.

Both the right-handers were at their lethal best with Dhoni bringing the asking rate down with two sixes off Russel in the 17th over while Rahul got one more to take India to 213/3.

With India needing 33 from the last three, Rahul got to his century with a brilliant six and then struck a four off the very next ball.

But all the drama was stored for the last over, in which India managed to score six out of the required eight runs, before Dhoni, who survived a catch on the first ball, was caught at short third-man on the final ball.

Earlier, riding on opener Evin Lewis’ century, West Indies posted 245/6 after being sent in to bat, in what is the US’s only International Cricket Council (ICC) recognised cricket stadium.

The carnage started from the word go as the opening duo of Johnson Charles (79) and Lewis clobbered pacer Mohammed Shami for a six and two fours in the opening over.

The Indian bowlers had no answer to the onslaught launched by the West Indians with Charles being the more aggressive of the two.

Shami, who was recalled for his second spell, finally managed to bring the onslaught to a halt by removing Charles with a full length delivery that rocked his off-stump.

Charles’ 33-ball knock was laced with six boundaries and seven massive sixes and his partnership with Lewis produced 126 runs.

The dismissal of Charles brought in all-rounder Andre Russell, who was promoted to keep the run-rate soaring.

Playing his second ever T20I, Lewis, who till now was playing second fiddle, began his attack, getting to his 50 off 25 balls with four boundaries and three sixes.

The southpaw mauled seamer Stuart Binny for five consecutive sixes in the 11th over to propel the Caribbean side to the 150-run mark, while reaching the three-figure mark himself of 47 balls with a single from Jadeja before being dismissed in the same over. His 49-ball knock included five fours and nine huge sixes while his partnership for the second wicket with Russell yielded 78 runs.

Jadeja brought the smiles back on the faces of Indian fans by trapping Russell plumb in front in the same over but not before the West Indies crossed the 200-run mark.

Skipper Carlos Brathwaite (14) and veteran Keiron Pollard (22) then continued the fireworks in the middle with a 31-run stand before Brathwaite fell prey to Jasprit Bumrah’s brilliant presence of mind to be run out on the first ball of the final over.

Marlon Samuels (1) and Dwayne Bravo (1) then survived the last ball with a single, but it was enough for the West Indies to get to the third highest T20I total and third highest overall score.

Both the teams will face off in the second and final match of the series at the same venue on Sunday.

Brief Scores: West Indies 245/6 (Evin Lewis 100, Johnson Charles 79, Andre Russell 22, Jadeja 2/39, Bumrah 2/47) vs India 244/4 (Lokesh Rahul 110 not out, Rohi Sharma 62, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 43, Dwayne Bravo 2/37)

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