India almost pulled of the highest ever successful run chase in T20 Internationals with Lokesh Rahul smashing his maiden hundred but fell short by just one run in a nerve-wrecking last ball finish to lose the first of the two T20 match against the West Indies in Fort Lauderdale in the US on Saturday.
Rahul, who was included in the playing eleven ahead of Shikhar Dhawan, hit 110 not out from 51 balls with the help of 12 fours and five sixes and India were on the verge of chasing down West Indies’ mammoth 245 for 6.
India needed just eight runs from the final over and they should have have won the match with set batsmen Rahul and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in full flow.
India needed two runs from the final ball to win the match but Dhoni failed to get those runs as he was caught by Marlon Samuels, slicing a slower delivery off Dwayne Bravo to the heartbreak of the large number of Indian supporters at the stands. India ended the run chase at 244 for 4 from 20 overs.
India thus failed to pull off the highest ever successful run chase which still stands at 236 for 6 which the West Indies pulled off against South Africa in January last year in Johannesburg.
Dhoni’s men, however, had the consolation of knocking off the highest ever T20I second innings score which is also the same 236 for 6 which the West Indies made against South Africa.
24-year-old Rahul, who was dropped on 36 by Andre Russell, became the third Indian to hit a century — and the highest scorer — in T20 Internationals after Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma.
Playing in his fourth T20I, Rahul reached to his 100 in 46 balls, the joint second fastest in T20 Internationals along with South African Faf du Plessis and just one ball short of South African Richard Levi’s fastest 45-ball hundred against New Zealand in 2012 in Hamilton.
The match, the first international outing for India in United States, was in fact a competition of show of batting prowess between the two teams on a featherbed of a pitch on a small ground at Lauderhill and Dhoni’s men came second at the end.
West Indies’ score of 245/6, the third highest T20 score, was amassed riding on Rookie opener Evin Lewis’ 100 (49 balls; 5×4, 9×6) and Johnson Charles’ (79 of 33 balls; 6×4, 7×6) as the Caribbeans mauled the Indian bowlers after being put into bat by Dhoni.
This was the highest ever T20 International score against India by any team, surpassing the 219 for 4 by South Africa in Johannesburg in March 2012.
The way the West Indians were hammering the Indian bowlers, it seemed that Dhoni’s decision to insert the opposition in backfired but his boys were up to the task and they were on the verge of turning the match on its head with a vintage batting performance only to fall short by just one run.