A combination of composure from Dinesh Karthik and brute force from Krunal Pandya ensured India surpassed the once-daunting 110-run target set by West Indies to clinch a five-wicket win in the first of the three-match T20I series here at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Having been put to bat first, opener Shai Hope (14 from 10) made a decent start to the innings for the away side, with the score at 16 runs off the first two overs.
That, however, changed as Denesh Ramdin (2 from 5) nicked a Umesh Yadav delivery for Karthik to collect behind the stumps, which was followed by Hope being run-out, owing to some slick work by K. L. Rahul and Manish Pandey in the following over.
The Caribbean side could not manage to get any rhythm into their batting as wickets in quick successions put them in a precarious position, with a meagre 63 registered for the loss of seven wickets at the end of 15 overs.
However, the final three batsmen contributed a combined 51 runs in the final five overs, giving the West Indies' bowlers a fighting chance to win the first T20I in India without Mahendra Singh Dhoni featuring for the Men in Blue.
All Indian bowlers picked up at least a wicket each, including debutants Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed. Kuldeep Yadav picked up three wickets in his four overs while conceding only 13 runs. The chinaman's performances saw him being recognized as the man of the match.
The Indian batting did not match up to their performances on the field, as Rahul (16 from 22) was the only home batsman to breach into double digits among the top four. Soon, India were reduced to 45 for the loss of five wickets as skipper Carlos Braithwaite dismissed Rahul, thus making the possibility of an Indian loss very real.
Along with Pandey (19 from 24), Karthik (31 from 34) steadied India's rocking ship and added 38 runs to the board, before the former was scalped by Khary Pierre with India at 83 for the loss of five, by which point, the danger was mostly averted.
Pandya, who smashed 21 runs off just nine deliveries, hit the winning runs to seal the victory and put India ahead in the series.
The second T20I between the two sides will be played on November 6 at Lucknow.