Suryakumar Yadav epitomised his team’s new all-out attacking approach with a blazing 76 at the top of the order as India romped to a seven-wicket victory over the West Indies in the third T20 international in St Kitts on Tuesday.
After his Caribbean counterpart, Kyle Mayers, anchored the home side’s total of 164 for five with a boisterous 73 off 50 balls batting first, Yadav’s effort off 44 deliveries with eight fours and four sixes ensured the visitors cantered to the target with an over to spare to take a 2-1 lead in the series ahead of the final two matches at the weekend in Florida.
Beaten in the final over of the second match a day earlier when their batting failed to fire consistently, India looked focused and purposeful from the start of their innings with the only concern being over the fitness of the captain.
Rohit Sharma was forced to retire in the second over after it appeared that he hurt his lower back attempting a violent swing to the on-side.
However Yadav, given free reign to play his shots from ball one, then dominated an 86-run stand with Shreyas Iyer (24) which effectively ended the match as a contest.
An unbeaten 33 from Rishabh Pant then formalised the win.
“When Rohit went inside it was important for someone to bat through to the 17th over but I was still able to be myself and express myself,” said Yadav.
“I really loved it because I have done it in the IPL (Indian Premier League) as well. I just backed myself and enjoyed it.”
Sharma subsequently indicated that the injury was not as serious as it first looked and he expects to be fit for the last two matches.
West Indies’ quest to challenge the Indian batting line-up hinged on Mayers’ aggression at the start of the match with the left-hander, like Yadav, belting eight fours and four sixes before becoming the second wicket for Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 17th over.
However no-one else in the batting order managed any meaningful contribution as India’s bowlers picked up wickets at important stages to thwart the home side’s best effort at posting a formidable total.
“We had to get early wickets but it didn’t happen,” explained West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran. “I was still happy with our total though and felt we were in the game at the halfway stage.”