Cricket - Surya
Suryakumar Yadav played the role of a finisher with a mature 34 off deliveries at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Kolkata: The laboured win which India carved out in the opening match of the T20 series at the Eden Gardens helped them take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series - white it underlined new white ball skipper Rohit Sharma’s intent when he said on Tuesday that he wanted to start working at the jigsaws to fall into place in time for the T20 World Cup later this year.

It was a no-brainer for the Indian skipper to opt for chasing at the cavernous venue - with the dew factor expected to make things difficult for any team defending a somewhat below-par total of 157. The opening partnership between the ‘Hitman’ and Ishan Kishan showed a great deal of urgency in the Powerplay, with the skipper looking unstoppable till he was caught at the deep off part-time off spinner Roston Chase.

After cruising to 80 for one at the halfway mark, the Indian chase suffered two hiccups when a subdued Kishan and then Virat Kohli both failed to clear the bigger Eden boundaries. Left-arm spinner Fabian Allen and Chase brought the visitors back in the game when Kohli, who looked patient and even unleashed a lovely inside out drive, eventually holed out to Kieron Pollard at long on for only 17 - an effort which is not going to stop the talk about the former captain’s batting form.

When Rishabh Pant left with India left at 114 for four, there was still a bit of gap between the lip and cup. It was then left Suryakumar Yadav and Venkatesh Iyer to take the hosts over the line with a composed 48-run partnership off 26 balls to seal a six-wicket win with seven balls to spare. ‘Sky’ played the role of the finisher to a nicety before an empty stadium - with a timely six over fine leg off Sheldon Cottrell helping him to ease the pressure on the chasing team.

The willingness to experiment showed in the way India lined up their playing XI on Wednesday with as many as three of their seam bowling allrounders getting a break in Iyer, Deepak Chahar and Harshal Patel with Bhubaneshwar Kumar the only experienced seamer in the ranks. ‘Bhuvi,’ who had to cop with some criticism, was back to his accurate self and the delivery which held it’s line to induce an uppish stroke from opener Brandon King for the early wicket showed he was possibly getting his confidence back.

It was a memorable day out for young Ravi Bishnoi, who was handed his debut after waiting in the wings for some time. The sprightly young leg spinner, who was picked up by the new IPL team Lucknow Supergiants for this year’s IPL, overcame a few nervous moments in his first over when he struck - by first removing Rovman Powell who fell to a poor shot at the deep and then had the technically sound Chase caught at the crease for a leg before verdict with one of his googlies.

Nicholas Pooran, now vice-captain for the tourists, held his own as wickets continued to fall in regular intervals. The five sixes that the pocket-sixed batsman struck was simply delightful in his 61, though it needed that final push from skipper Kieron Pollard to take the score past the 150-mark.