Jubilant West Indian players celebrate their victory against India during the ICC T20 World cup semi final match in Mumbai, Mar. 31. (Santosh Hirlekar | PTI)
Title aspirants India were knocked out of the ICC World Twenty20, Mar. 31, with a heartbreaking seven-wicket defeat at the hands of West Indies, who capitalized on the home team’s sloppy bowling display in a high-scoring semifinal showdown at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, writes S.S. Ramaswamy. (#Cricket, #2016WorldCupT20, #WT20, #WorldT20, #ICCWorldT20, #MeninBlue, #India, #Windies, #WestIndies, #Dhoni, #Simmons, #Kohli, #imvkohli, #Siliconeer, @Siliconeer)
Put into bat, India rode on in-form Virat Kohli’s blazing unbeaten 47-ball 89 to notch up a challenging 192 for two, but the spirited Caribbean chased down the total and made the final with two balls to spare, leaving the capacity crowd at the Wankhede Stadium completely stunned.
India had themselves to blame for the debacle as they made costly blunders while bowling and allowed Lendle Simmons three lives. Simmons, playing for the first time in the tournament in place of injured Andre Fletcher, made full use of the lives to smash his way to a scintillating unbeaten 82 off 51 balls.
2012 winners West Indies will now take on England, champions in 2010, in the summit showdown at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, April 3.
Simmons, caught off no-ball twice in his innings that contained 5 sixes and 7 fours, led the West Indian charge.
India were left ruing the let-offs to Simmons due to overstepping committed, first by Ravichandran Ashwin when the batsman was on 18 in the seventh over, and then Hardik Pandya when he was on 58 in the 15th over with West Indies cruising at 132 for 3.
Simmons put on a vital partnership of 97 runs in 62 balls with another youngster Johnson Charles (52 in 36 balls) after West Indies had been rocked by the dismissals of swashbuckling opener Chris Gayle (5) and Marlon Samuels (8) with just 19 on board.
Charles departed after striking 2 sixes and 7 fours, leaving Simmons and Andre Russell (43 not out in 20 balls) to take the West Indies to the victory mark, with the latter striking two successive fours off Kohli’s last over.
The unfinished stand between Simmons and Charles, who clobbered four sixes and three fours, produced 80 in 40 balls.
This was the third time in four clashes in the tournament’s history that Windies had got the better of India who had won their earlier clash two years ago in Bangladesh on way to finishing runner-up to Sri Lanka.
India’s total was their second-highest in the tournament’s history.
In reply, West Indies buckled under pressure in front of a crowd of over 32,000 and slumped to 6 for 1 and 19 for two before Simmons, Charles and Russell turned things around to dash India’s hopes.
West Indies made a disastrous start when the batsman they rely upon most to chase big totals, Chris Gayle, departed in the second over castled by a swinging yorker from Jasprit Bumrah as the left handed batsman played across.
It was a very big blow for the West Indies as it was here that Gayle played a whirlwind knock of 100 not out with 11 towering sixes to help the team chase down 182 against England in their tournament opener.
More trouble followed for Windies when Marlon Samuels scooped up a dolly to mid-off off Nehra as he tried to make room to play on the off side.
But luck smiled on the West Indians soon after the power play ended with the score on 44 for 2 as Simmons was caught while slashing a wide ball from Ashwin at backward point by Bumrah. But TV replays showed that Ashwin had overstepped and the batsman came back to resume his innings.
This was a major break for the Windies as Simmons, familiar with the conditions as member of local IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, and Johnson Charles went about rebuilding the innings.
Charles was harsh on Ashwin, carting the off spinner over mid-wicket for a six and a four in successive balls to banish him off the attack.
He was lucky in the next over, the 10th, when he top-edged Hardik Pandya for a six over third man and then swung the bowler to the mid wicket region for a four to help the team reach 84 for 2 at the half way stage of the innings, in comparison to India’s 86 for one at the same stage.
And Ravindra Jadeja too could not keep down the runs after replacing Ashwin as Simmons swung him over mid-wicket into the stands for a maximum and then drove him for a four to covers.
Charles drove Pandya for a four to long-on to bring up the team’s 100 in the 12th over and his own 50 in 30 balls and the Indians looked worried with their attack looking ragged on the batsman-friendly pitch.
After Jadeja gave away 12 runs in his third over, Dhoni in a surprise move – brought on Kohli and the Delhi star gave the much-needed breakthrough off his first ball to send back Charles caught at long off by Rahane to arrest the threatening third-wicket stand in the 14th over after it realized 97 runs in 62 balls.
Windies had another slice of luck when Simmons was caught off a no-ball from Pandya’s bowling at extra cover and celebrated the escape by hitting the following free-hit for a huge six over mid-wicket to help Windies reach 138 for 3, 54 runs adrift of the Indian score.
Simmons and Russell then continued the good work and swung the match Windies way with their unconquered partnership.
For India, Nehra was the pick of the bowlers with 1 for 24. The others were very expensive, with Jadeja and Pandya giving away 91 runs in eight overs.
Earlier, a recast top-order clicked in unison for the home team with Kohli producing yet another masterclass in making his third half century of the tournament, an unbeaten 89, as India powered their way to 192 for 2.
Kohli, who masterminded India’s entry into the semifinals with a brilliant 82 not out against Australia at Mohali in their last Super 10 game, was in his element as he struck 11 fours and a six in his knock to help India take full advantage of a fine start given by Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
India were off to a sound beginning as their new opening combination of Sharma (43 in 31 balls) and Rahane (40 in 35 balls), in for the out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan, put on 62 runs.
Rahane and Kohli then added 66 runs for the second wicket before the latter and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15 not out) put on 64 in 27 balls for the unfinished third wicket to give the West Indies a challenging total to chase.