West Indies 149 for 6 (Powell 48, Pooran 41, Chahal 2-24, Arshdeep 2-31) beat India 145 for 9 (Tilak 39, Holder 2-19, McCoy 2-28) by four runs
A T20 team built with the future in mind was unable to deal with the challenges of the present as West Indies made India scratch, struggle and finally submit.
It was a hard-earned victory too. West Indies repelled a three-man spin attack on a slow Tarouba pitch to put up 149, their captain, Rovman Powell, who was discarded in the preceding one-day series, top-scoring with 48. That total proved four more than enough as the experience of Jason Holder, the guile of Akeal Hosein and the gumption of Romario Shepherd combined to buck a recent trend. West Indies haven't had a lot of success against India in T20Is over the last five years. So this one will have tasted extra sweet.
The game was in the balance when Hardik Pandya was bowled in the chase with India needing 37 off 29 balls. It was still in the balance when India needed ten off the final over with three wickets in hand. Shepherd tipped it West Indies' way, showing everyone that they can be competitive even when their seniors are available.
Hosein, who was back from the Major League Cricket tournament in the USA, had set the tone for West Indies by taking out Shubman Gill in the powerplay. The left-arm fingerspinner then returned to finish with outstanding figures of 4-0-17-1, including 14 dots. Holder, Obed McCoy and Shepherd all took pace off the ball to make life difficult for India's batters.
On such a pitch, Suryakumar Yadav could score just one of his 21 runs behind square. Both debutant Tilak Varma, who had top-scored for India with 39 off 22 balls, and captain Hardik were done in by offcutters. There would be no way back for India, despite a late cameo from Arshdeep Singh.
King and Pooran tee off
Brandon King and Nicholas Pooran, fresh off a hundred in the MLC final, were responsible for 51 off the 54 runs West Indies had scored in the powerplay. With the pitch expected to slow down as the game progressed, King went harder against the new ball, pumping debutant Mukesh Kumar for back-to-back fours in his first over. King also lofted Axar Patel for a six before Yuzvendra Chahal trapped him in his first over.
Pooran took over from King and laid into India's spinners with his variety of sweeps. Despite Pooran's presence in the middle, Hardik gave the last over of the powerplay to Axar, who ended up leaking 14.
India pull WI back
Axar didn't bowl an over after that, but Kuldeep Yadav, Chahal and the seamers used the pitch to their advantage to apply the brakes on West Indies' innings.
Kuldeep and Chahal split three wickets between them on their reunion, but it was Hardik who claimed the prized scalp of Pooran for 41 off 34 balls.
Powell led a charmed life - he was dropped twice - but managed to repair West Indies' innings with 48 off 32 balls. Even though he didn't always pick the wristspinners out of the hand, he showed courage by constantly charging them, and once he got to the pitch of the ball, the direction of the turn didn't matter.
Mukesh and Arshdeep then bossed the death overs with their yorkers and hard-to-hit full tosses. India didn't concede a single boundary in the last three overs of the innings.
India then had a skittish start, losing both Gill and Ishan Kishan in the powerplay. Hosein made the new ball dip and turn to have Gill stumped for 3 off 9 balls. Kishan also tried to manufacture a shot by advancing at McCoy, but he ended up mis-hitting it to mid-on.
In the next over, however, Tilak announced his arrival into international cricket with back-to-back sixes off 140-plus kph rockets from Alzarri Joseph. Then when Shepherd went full, Tilak drilled him over extra-cover for six more. Shepherd, though, struck back to hoodwink Tilak with a cutter. Tilak was the only proper batter from either team to have struck at over 150 on this pitch. The result may not have gone India's way but defeat can be a good teacher and this team has a lot of room to grow.
WI complete the job
The fielding had cost West Indies a spot in the upcoming ODI World Cup, but on Thursday, it was particularly sharp, best exemplified by Shimron Hetmyer's diving catch at extra-cover to dismiss Suryakumar. Kyle Mayers then produced a direct hit at the death to run Sanju Samson out for a run-a-ball 12.
All the seamers kept hitting the pitch with quick short balls or slower cutters. Holder even bowled a double wicket-maiden in the 16th over. West Indies' slow over-rate meant they had to contend with having only four fielders on the boundary for the last two overs of their defence, but McCoy and Shepherd coolly finished it off for them.