Khaleel Ahmed had a memorable outing on Tuesday (November 6) as he scalped 2/30 to help India register a thumping 71-run victory over West Indies in the second T20I in Lucknow.
After being put into bat, stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma smashed his fourth T20I century (111*) to power India to a commanding 195/2 in 20 overs.
In reply, West Indies got off to a terrible start as left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed removed both the openers, Shai Hope (6) and Shimron Hetmyer (15), cheaply. Afterwards, wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav got rid of Darren Bravo (23) and Nicholas Pooran (4) to reduce the visitors to 52/4 in 8 overs.
West Indies couldn’t recover from the early demolition of Indian bowlers. The experienced duo of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar returned into the attack and dented the tourists even further with wicket apiece. Although Keemo Paul struck some lusty blows in the fag end of the innings, it was never going to be enough for Windies as they managed only 124/9 in their stipulated 20 overs.
Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Rohit was full of praise for the young Khaleel and also revealed that he wanted to bowl with the new ball.
“Khaleel wanted the new ball and he initially looks to swing it and he has taken up the challenge well. Bumrah has been the premier bowler for us and the way we use him in T20s is different to ODIs. And when Khaleel bowls that kind of a spell upfront that helps us,” Rohit quoted.
Khaleel was pleased by the fact that he was up for the challenge.
“I had more responsibility today as I was bowling with the new ball. I had read the pitch well when we were batting. I am working on my bowling arm as well as on my non-bowling arm with Bharat Arun (bowling coach) sir during practice sessions,” Khaleel said after the match.
The Indian captain also spoke about how it took some time to figure out the pitch in Lucknow’s brand new stadium.
“It was a new pitch, so we wanted to understand how the wicket is behaving. Hence, we took so much time to understand what the pitch is doing. And we carried on from there. Whenever you get an opportunity, you try and do well. Everyone will go home smiling. That’s what we play for. Glad we could win the game and win the series. You know Dhawan’s natural instinct is to put pressure on the bowlers, but we decided to take our time,” Rohit asserted.
“The partnership at the top was very important. The 120-plus stand was crucial and KL finished off well. This is a wonderful stadium – one of the best we have played in. Just want to thank the crowd for coming out and supporting us in huge numbers,” he concluded.
On the other hand, West Indies skipper Carlos Brathwaite rued the batting failure of his team.
“This is hard to digest but we need to take the positives before we play the final game. They batted well without losing a wicket in the initial overs. Our batting continues to let us down. We got a young group guys so we need to appreciate the positives,” Brathwaite said.
“We are still trying to find the right opening combination. It’s difficult to choose the perfect batting pair but we’re trying. We need to make the best decisions we think. Hopefully in the third game, we’ll put up a better performance,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)