Bangalore: Bat first, win the match. That has been the pattern in all four limited-overs games in this tour. On none of those occasions has the side chasing even gotten close. With no overcast morning conditions to factor in, batting first was a no-brainer for Yuvraj Singh as India A piled on an imposing 214. West Indies A’s resistance was all too brief as they collapsed to 121 to on a day in which all three departments – particularly the fielding – went off the rails. It was a strong comeback for the hosts after conceding the one-dayers 2-1 after winning the first game.
A run-riot was expected with the match being played on the same surface in which West Indies piled on 312 in the third one-dayer. The start provided by the Indian openers was electric. Length deliveries were pulled, slower balls were easily clipped, the spinners too were ineffective with the new ball and by the end of the Powerplay, India had raced to 74 for no loss.
Sloppy catching, though, made the score look better than it was. Unmukt Chand was let off twice, on 22 and 42, and both were sitters. Veerasammy Permaul had it covered at deep midwicket, and managed to spill it. Chand later skipped down the track to the spinner and looked to loft across the line, and Jonathan Carter ran forward from deep square leg, but put down a regulation catch. His charmed life ended on 47, when, ironically, he was taken brilliantly by Kirk Edwards, who was running backwards from square leg, nearly colliding with the fielder from the deep. Such pieces of fielding were a rarity in the innings though.
Yuvraj and Kedar Jadhav built on the start with a blistering stand of 80 off 38 balls. Jadhav’s innings was a mixture of powerful lofted drives and deft touches to third man. The ground fielding was poor at parts as the West Indians allowed easy runs to flow. Jadhav was harsh on the spinners, stepping down the track and lofting over the sightscreen.
The crowd expected another special from Yuvraj, and he didn’t disappoint, slogging the spinners and punishing full tosses from the seamers. A low full toss from Andre Russell disappeared over deep midwicket, and the following ball only just cleared the rope, when the fielder back-pedalled over the rope. Yuvraj reached his fifty with a six over long-on, and for the fourth time in as many games, made it worthwhile for the spectators.
The penultimate over produced a bizarre passage of play when West Indies were gifted four wickets in four balls. Jadhav was at the head of the procession when he top-edged to long-off. Yuvraj tried to slog the next delivery over the on side, but didn’t pick the slower ball, and was caught within the circle. Naman Ojha was the unlucky hat-trick victim as he tried to clear deep cover, but was caught by the sweeper Permaul.
There was a hush as Russell and his teammates rushed to the boundary, amused at the turn of events. Yusuf Pathan departed the next ball, caught at long-on off another slower ball. India went from 189 for 3 to 191 for 7 in the space of six balls, all in the pursuit of boundaries. It’s possible that Russell may have been a touch embarrassed too at the end of the over, as he languidly walked to the umpire to pick his cap. There was no spring in his step because the damage had already been done. West Indies had a daunting task ahead of them.
India’s catching was superior in comparison and as a result halted West Indies early as they looked for big hits. Rahul Sharma picked up his first five-for in T20s to wrap up the game in just 16.2 overs. Andre Fletcher threatened briefly, but West Indies failed because of their inability to put on any partnerships of note.
Kieran Powell, the West Indies A captain, admitted his team were complacent in the field. “The catching has been a problem since the 3rd one-dayer. After I had the huddle with the guys we got better. I think we were a bit complacent today in the field. It’s one of the things we have to brush up on before the four-day matches. We can’t afford to let them off the hook and we’ve seen what can happen if we do.”
India A 214 for 7 (Yuvraj 52, Chand 47, Jadhav 42, Russell 4-45) beat West Indies A 121 (Fletcher 32, Rahul 5-23) by 93 runs