The international cricket was, finally, successfully re-launched in the “land of opportunities”- the USA. At Central Broward Regional Park, Florida in front of enthusiastic fans India and West Indies batsmen have celebrated cricket as it was a run festival under the scorching sun.  At a flat pitch, which has hardly anything to offer to the bowlers, batsmen erected their authority and bruised the bowlers.

Among the batsmen, who piled up runs quickly at this Central Broward Regional Park, 24-year-old Evin Lewis was the pick of them. He was an unlikely hero at this match.

He even didn’t get a chance to play had Chris Gayle was fit for the match. But Gayle’s injury proved lucky for Lewis.

The cricket world hardly knows him, but that didn’t bother him to feast on the crease opening the innings with Jonson Charles.   This was only his second T20I for Lewis. He made his debut against Afghanistan in 2016 WT20 in India.

The West Indies T20I is filled with quality hitters and the opening slot is quite congested with too many quality T20I openers. During the WT20 Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher opened the innings for West Indies and both of them gave the Caribbean team a good start. But when   self-claimed universal boss  Gayle is fit, they have no chance to play, among these quartet-Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher, Johnson Charles and now Evin Lewis- only one player will get a chance to open the innings with Gayle, who is unfit.

So Evin was quite lucky to get a chance open the innings over Andre Fletcher and Lendl Simmons.  In the debut, he got a nightmarish start as he scored duck at a rank turner in Jamtha, Nagpur. On that day West Indies, the eventual champion struggled like a mediocre team and failed to chase down 124 runs target in 20 overs. Afghanistan won the match by 6 runs.

But this time, Evin in his second chance in international cricket he let the world know his class. In the 11th over of the match, Indian captain Dhoni called Stuart Binny to bowl who didn’t have any clue to bowl to Lewis. Binny bowled too short which allowed Lewis room to pulled him for six. Lewis’ consecutive five sixes off the bowling of Stuart Binny was a glimpse of his ability to strike the ball hard.  Lewis, a left-handed batsman,  announced that he is not less dangerous  than a Chris Gayle.  Like Gayle, Lewis is a hitter, loves to hit the ball hard.

Lewis in the first innings   accelerated the match with his striking ability. Though Lewis had a nightmare start  in international cricket he is a very destructive batsman, and in the first T20 of India’s campaign in America, he exhibited his class with a strike rate of 204.08.

Chris Gayle is Lewis’ boss

However, Evin lewis always worships Chris Gayle as his mentor and always wants  to play for West Indies like Chris Gayle. Once Lewis, said, “I hit a lot of sixes, big sixes like him.” Lewis took Gayle as his mentor so when he was parking Binny and other Indian over all parts of Central Regional Park, Gayle was a happy man and appreciating Lewis’  48 balls hundred, fifth fastest T20I hundred, from the boundary line.

The rise of young Lewis

Lewis  moved up the ranks playing age group cricket for Trinidad and Tobago. He was a part of a championship-winning Under-19 side in 2008.

He made his List A debut in 2009 when he struck a half century playing for West indies U-19. In 2010 January Lewis played for West Indies U-19 team in the junior World Cup in New Zealand.

Like his mentor Gayle, Lewis is well known in the T20 circuit. In 2013 he was a top scorer for Trinidad and Tobago’s to scorer in the Champions League with a strike rate of 141.61.  In the semifinal against Mumbai Indians, he displayed his big-match credentials, striking 62 off 46 balls attacking Mitchell Johnson and Harbhajan Singh. Next year at the Carribean Premier League, he was the top scorer for Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel. In eight innings he scored 321 runs  just 42 runs behind of Gayle, who played three innings more than Lewis.

When he was outside of Caribbean and gave another moment to  the selectors to think about this international selection just before the WT20 in India. Lewis  scored an unbeaten 65 balls 101  in his first stint at the Bangladesh Premier league which paved the way for his WT20 selection in the West Indies team.

Now, we have to see that in the second T20I today at the same ground will Lewis continue with the West Indies playing XI, for the time being, he has to contest with his mentor Gayle for the opening slot. If Gayle is fit then Lewis may have to watch the match from reserve bench, but Gayle’s injury unlikely to  heal in one day, so Lewis may get second chance to show his class again on a flat pitch of Central Broward Regional Park.