Virat Kohli smacked 94 not out off 50 balls for India to beat the West Indies by six wickets in the first Twenty20 on Friday.
Kohli’s highest T20 score anchored India's chase of the 208-run target with eight balls to spare. The skipper hit six fours and another six sixes as his 35-ball half-century led India to 209-4 in 18.4 overs.
It was the highest T20 total chased down by India, going past the 207 versus Sri Lanka in Mohali in 2009.
India’s chase faltered initially when Rohit Sharma was caught early on 8. After 10 overs, India as well placed at 89-1.
KL Rahul, in for the injured Shikhar Dhawan, combined with Kohli for 100. Rahul’s half-century came off 37 balls. After he was dismissed in the 14th over for 62 off 40 balls, Kohli took center stage.
Kohli added a quickfire 48 runs off 17 balls with Rishabh Pant, who made 18 off 9.
Kesrick Williams conceded 23 runs in the 16th over and went 0-60. It was the turning point in India’s chase as Kohli took 54 runs off the last 19 deliveries he faced.
“I didn’t want to put pressure on Rahul but I couldn’t get going properly," Kohli said. “I don’t have to change much (in my batting) across formats. I just concentrate on doing the job instead of hitting (the ball) in the air. I played according to the situation in the second half (of my innings).”
It was the 23rd time he made fifty-plus in T20 cricket, the most by any batsman.
The West Indies scored 207-5 after it was sent in to bat. Shimron Hetmyer (56) scored his maiden T20 half-century.
After losing Lendl Simmons cheaply, Evin Lewis, with 40 off 17 balls, and Brandon King , with 31 off 23, gave the visitors an aggressivde start. They put on 51 runs for the second wicket.
Ravindra Jadeja (1-30) was India’s best bowler, and got King stumped in the 11th over.
Hetmyer struck four sixes and two fours as he scored a first T20 half-century off 35 deliveries.
Late blitzes by Kieon Pollard, 37 off 19 balls, and Jason Holder, 24 not out off nine, lifted West Indies past 200 easily.
“Two hundred and eight (is enough to defend) any day," Pollard said. “Where we lost the game was the extras and our bowling. Our execution was poor.”
The second T20 of three is on Sunday in Thiruvananthapuram.
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