India 179 for 1 (Jaiswal 84*, Gill 77) beat West Indies 178 for 8 (Hetmyer 61, Hope 45, Arshdeep 3-38, Kuldeep 2-26) by nine wickets
Gill and Jaiswal, a glimpse of the future
If West Indies had a semblance of hope of sealing the series with a game to spare, India’s young guns had other ideas. Jaiswal bookended the opening over of the chase with fours, slashing the length ball from Obed McCoy through third before lofting one over mid-off. He then greeted Jason Holder with three fours before Gill brought his trademark short-arm jab to deposit McCoy over deep midwicket.
Jaiswal’s back-to-back fours off Romario Shepherd following which Gill tore into Odean Smith in the last over of the powerplay that went for 16. India rollicked to 66 for 0 in the powerplay.
Gill and Jaiswal did not offer any respite to the West Indies bowlers even after the powerplay, playing out only two non-boundary overs in the phase till their stand was broken. Gill notched up his second fifty-plus score in T20Is before Jaiswal got to his maiden half-century in just his second match. It was utter domination from the pair that helped them equal Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul’s record for the highest opening partnership for India, before Gill picked out deep midwicket with his flick.
Jaiswal, in the company of Tilak Varma, ensured India suffered no more hiccups in keeping the series alive.
A familiar story till…
On a bright and hot morning, West Indies opted to bat first on a flat surface in the first of back-to-back T20Is in Florida but couldn’t get the ideal start. Kyle Mayers started with a couple of fours off Axar Patel, who opened the bowling for India, before smacking a maximum off Arshdeep Singh over deep midwicket. But Arshdeep exacted revenge next ball bouncing Mayers out to get him caught behind.
Brandon King continued to bat positively to drive West Indies in the powerplay. He danced down the track to Yuzvendra Chahal’s legspin to tonk him down the ground for a maximum before heaving a length ball from Arshdeep over deep midwicket. But once again Arshdeep struck after a boundary ball to have King caught at short third.
When Kuldeep Yadav picked up two wickets in his first over – including having Nicholas Pooran miscue one to long-on off his first ball of the match – it seemed West Indies would once again flatter to deceive after an attacking first six overs where they scored 55 for 2.
… Hope and Hetmyer propel West Indies
Shai Hope was brought in for his first T20I since March 2022 after Johnson Charles had returns of 3, 2 and 12 in the first three matches. He used his feet to attack both Axar and Chahal. At the other end, though, West Indies lost three wickets for three runs to go from 54 for 1 to 57 for 4 when Hetmyer joined Hope.
After a couple of quiet overs, Hope broke the shackles by hitting Chahal for a four and six in the tenth over. Hetmyer then unleashed a flurry of boundaries – first flicking Kuldeep over midwicket before greeting Hardik Pandya into the attack with a six and a four. They added 49 off just 36 balls for the fifth wicket before Hope holed out to long-on.
Hetmyer then changed gears to scoop Mukesh Kumar over short fine leg for a six before freeing his arms to send Kuldeep soaring over extra cover. He walloped Arshdeep into the deep midwicket stands before becoming his third victim, thanks to an athletic effort from Tilak Varma, who charged in from long-on and dove forward to pouch the catch.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo