India withstood a late charge from rookie Christopher Barnwell to collect their maiden Twenty20 international victory over the West Indies by 16 runs at Queen’s Park Oval in the capital of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday.
India successfully defended a target of 160, but Barnwell gave them some late jitters with two fours and three sixes in 34 not out from 16 balls in a last-ditch bid for a West Indies victory.
The visitors’ spinners — like Pakistan’s before them — squeezed the West Indies top-order batting, despite an attractive, run-a-ball 41 from Darren Bravo.
Harbhajan Singh was the most successful India bowler with two for 25 from his allotted four overs, conceding just 77 along with fellow off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yusuf Pathan.
As a result of India’s stingy bowling, the home team — like the visitors without a number of leading players — could not overcome the rising scoring rate before a near capacity crowd that included embattled West Indies opener Chris Gayle, the leading scorer in the Indian Premier League.
Subramaniam Badrinath stroked 43 to revive the visitors and lead them to 159 for six, after Darren Sammy undermined their top-order. Badrinath struck five fours from 37 deliveries to breathe life into the Indians’ innings, after they stumbled to 63 for four at the halfway stage.
The visitors’ top order was reduced to rubble after they were sent in to bat when Sammy snagged four for 16 from his allotted four overs.
However, Badrinath turned things around for India, with a stand of 61 for the fifth wicket with Rohit Sharma and inspired controlled late-order hitting to beef-up the visitors’ total, as they added 72 from the final five overs.
Praveen Kumar gave a hint of things to come when he started with a maiden over and the West Indies struggled through the opening overs.
Ashwin made the breakthrough in the fourth over, having Lendl Simmons dubiously caught at slip-off Ashwin for nine in the fourth over — TV replays suggesting he never touched the ball.
Munaf Patel then bowled fellow opener Andre Fletcher for 11 in the next over, leaving the West Indies 22 for two.
India met a roadblock when Marlon Samuels joined Bravo and made 27, putting on 66 for the third wicket, before Harbhajan removed both of them in the space of three balls in the 16th over.
Harbhajan had Samuels caught behind off a top-edge and bowled Bravo, before Kumar had Sammy caught at long-on for a duck in the following over to leave the West Indies 93 for five.
In the closing overs, the visitors kept their cool as Barnwell brought the crowd to their feet with some lusty blows, but it was all too little, too late.
The two sides play the first one-day International in a series of five today at the same venue.