India continued their brilliant form in the T20 format with a big win over the West Indies Thursday. While it was just an ICC World T20 2016 warmup, the manner in which India eased past the 2012 WT20 champions was pretty pleasing.
Batting first, Rohit Sharma was the lynchpin again, scoring a brilliant unbeaten 98 to help India to 185/6 in 20 overs, and this was all without any help from Virat Kohli, who did not even come out to bat in this warmup game.
With over 20,000 people watching from the stands at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Chris Gayle, a former KKR man, lit up the night sky with a few big blows, with Johnson Charles joining in as well, but once those cameos ended, so did West Indies' hopes of overhauling India's total.
WI eventually fell short by 45 runs, giving India another victory and another boost ahead of their World T20 2016 title quest.
While Rohit deservedly took most of the plaudits after the game for his outstanding 98, what would have given MS Dhoni the biggest of smiles would have been to see Mohammed Shami back in action. The fast bowler has not played a single competitive international game since the 50-over World Cup last year, but to see the right-armer running in and bowling those accurate deliveries was nice to see.
Shami ended up bowling all four of his overs, finishing with figures of 4-0-30-2, with the fast bowler picking up the wickets of Charles and Ashley Nurse.
"He just wanted to go out on the park and play," Rohit was quoted as saying about Shami by ESPNCricinfo. "For a bowler to not play for so long it's never easy.
"So he just wanted to go out and feel the conditions and feel the atmosphere, and feel (the joy of) wearing the India jersey again. He has really worked hard all this while.
"Coming back from a knee injury is not easy for anyone, not just a bowler. But he really worked hard and (the fact that) he is playing his first game he did pretty well.
"He bowled bouncers, yorkers, slower ones, that's what we expect from him. Till the last game he played for India, he did pretty well for us. He was one of the main bowlers for us and expectations will be there from him, no doubt about it."
Those expectations bore a nice little sweet fruit in the West Indies warmup game, and now for that fruit to grow even bigger and get even sweeter, Shami will need to put in another solid day at the office against South Africa in India's second and final warmup match.
This will be South Africa's first warmup, with the team only just landing in India after their T20 series engagements with Australia, which ended Wednesday.
South Africa are familiar opponents for India, and while the result of the match will have no bearing at all, neither will want to come away with a loss in Mumbai Saturday.
ICC World T20 2016 warmup match: India vs South Africa schedule:
Date: Saturday, March 12.
Time: 7.30 p.m. IST (4 p.m. SAST, 2 p.m. GMT, 9 a.m. ET).
Venue: Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.