India's gamble, unbeatable Simmons, Wankhede silenced
A stunning run chase from West Indies saw hosts India exit the 2016 World T20 after suffering a seven-wicket defeat in Mumbai. Some poor bowling and fielding, plus a lot of luck for Lendl Simmons, made sure that they will now play England in the final in Kolkata on Sunday.
Ahead of a tough game, India had only the one thing on their mind – a misfiring batting line-up. And they tried to rectify it by making two changes to their playing eleven. Ajinkya Rahane was picked ahead of the out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan, while Manish Pandey came into the side for the injured Yuvraj Singh. However, they lost the toss and West Indies had no qualms about opting to bowl at a chase-friendly venue.
Rahane (40) and Rohit Sharma (43) then gave India a quick start. They quickly found their rhythm, with the latter especially looking to make up for lost opportunities earlier in the tournament. He struck three fours and three sixes as the powerplay overs brought 55 runs, while their 50-partnership came up in the sixth over.
Just as they were looking set for a big score, Sharma was out LBW to Samuel Badree (1-26) in the eighth over, bringing Virat Kohli (89 not out off 47 balls) to the crease. He began nervously, was almost run out on a couple of occasions, but then settled down to run well between the wickets. The two batsmen dropped balls short of fielders by playing with soft hands and ran hard, often picking up doubles when none seemed possible. They added 66 runs for the second wicket.
This allowed India to score at a hectic pace, while playing safe shots, and they were placed at 86 for one at the halfway mark in their innings. Surprisingly enough though the big shots weren’t coming, and the pressure told on Rahane as he was caught in the deep off Andre Russell (1-47) in the 16th over. MS Dhoni (15 not out) then promoted himself to number four, and along with Kohli brought out the big runs.
Kohli reached his third half-century in the tournament off just 33 balls. But he had a further job to do, as the duo went on a charge in the death overs. They added 64 runs for the third wicket as 59 runs came off the last four overs. Even so, India might have felt that they ended 15 to 20 runs shorter than what was possible on this sleeping wicket.
Unbeatable Lendl Simmons
The chase depended on one man alone, or so everyone thought. Chris Gayle (5) though was bowled - sensationally - by Jasprit Bumrah (1-42) and then Ashish Nehra (1-24) got rid of Marlon Samuels (8) and the West Indies were struggling at 19 for two in the third over.
Lendl Simmons (82 not out off 51 balls) then arrived at the crease, less than 48 hours after landing here in India to replace Andre Fletcher in their squad. and he used his homework from his time with Mumbai Indians to good effect. With Johnson Charles (52 off 36 balls) at the other end, he put on 97 runs for the third wicket as they changed the game with some marvellous power hitting.
The turning point came when Ravichandran Ashwin (0-20) had Simmons caught off a no ball in the seventh over. It happened one more time, in the 15th over, off Hardik Pandya, with the same result on the free hit. And freakishly enough, his luck was in a third time when Manish Pandey stepped onto the boundary while catching the ball, the result being six runs once again, in the 18th over off Bumrah's bowling.
This was Simmons’ story, while Charles had taken the attack to the bowlers on his own earlier, allowing his partner to settle down. From 44 for two at the end of six overs, West Indies moved to 84 for two at the halfway mark, with those four overs costing 46 runs as the game turned in their favour.
Dhoni then threw the ball to Kohli in the 14th over, and the man with the golden touch got Charles caught at long-on with his first ball. It did little to help India though as Russell carted the ball to all parts of the ground, scoring 43 not out off 20 balls, inclusive of three fours and four sixes to destroy Indian hopes.
In the end, a silent Wankhede stadium watched as India crashed out of their home tournament with two balls to spare.
© Cricket World 2016