OPPO F1 #WorldT20SelfieExpert blog: West Indies shock a billion
Returning to the scene of their 2011 ODI World Cup win, there were a lot of hopes riding on the Indian team to make another dream come true. A billion people awaited another World T20 triumph, as almost nine years have passed since the one in the inaugural edition in 2007. But it was not to be.
The IPL's subcontinental pitches are bread and butter for West Indies' power hitters and they used that experience to knock out the Indian winds, romping to a seven-wicket win and shocking not only the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai but the rest of the country as well.
Perhaps winning the toss certified the West Indies' win as the dew factor at this ground helps the team's chase tall totals. Even so, it was unknown until late in the game as the Indian team gave their all on the field. It began with Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma giving a solid start, a marked improvement on the latter's failing partnership with Shikhar Dhawan.
The 55 runs they added for the first wicket helped set up a base for the remainder of the innings. Sharma looked in good touch for the first time in this tournament, and his back-to-back sixes off Andre Russell helped India raise their run rate. Maybe Rahane was a tad slower in comparison and a quicker strike rate might have helped the team better, but he did his job well in providing the start the team wanted.
Rahane's running between the wickets was a true highlight and this has been a marked improvement in the Indian team over the course of this tournament. But there were a couple of hiccups though, especially with Virat Kohli coming to the crease. There was some misunderstanding between the two batsmen and Kohli was almost run out, twice.
For us fans, they were truly heart-in-mouth moments as an Indian total without his solid contribution cannot be imagined. If he had have got out at that time, India might as well have surrendered the semi-final rather than just defend 150-odd. But such is his batting prowess at the moment that he overcame those early hiccups and played another memorable knock.
Running hard between the wickets, scoring boundaries at will, and bringing up his third half-century in this tournament, Kohli showed why he is the best batsman in the world at the moment. It is a privilege to watch him bat at the moment, and Indian cricket has found another hero in the mould of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
Thanks to his partnership with MS Dhoni, India were able to get big runs in the death overs and reach 192 for two. But was this a total beyond the reach of Chris Gayle? Perhaps not, as he had earlier scored a quick century against England at the same aground and chased down 183 easily. As such, victory or defeat solely depended on his batting prowess.
When Jasprit Bumrah bowled Gayle with a yorker I couldn't help but jump in elation. The young bowler has been impressive with his penetrative bowling and it bodes well for the future. In the present context perhaps the match had turned in India's favour. There was further assurance as Ashish Nehra got rid of the dangerous Marlon Samuels. 19 for two in the third over and the game looked dead and buried.
Or, so we thought!
Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons then proceeded to showcase immense power in their shots and cleared the boundaries at will. The former's half-century allowed his partner to settle down and really changed the flow of the innings.
But it was Simmons who paved the way for victory, or his luck rather. It made me wonder if he had gone on a pilgrimage before landing in India. Forty-eight hours ago he was still in the Caribbean, and now he was hitting sixes at will. More than that, he benefitted thrice, twice off a no ball off Ravichandran Ashwin and Hardik Pandya, and then caught at the boundary as Manish Pandey stepped on the boundary rope.
Is it even possible for a batsman to have three lives in a single T20 innings and still end up on the losing side, I wondered to myself. The answer soon presented itself but not before the Indian skipper set up a nail-biting finish.
With eight needed off the last over, he threw the ball to Kohli, who bowled two very good deliveries. He had raised a billion hopes all of a sudden, all of us invoking that night from 1993 when Tendulkar had thwarted South Africa in the Hero Cup final.
But there is only so much a man can do alone, and Kohli had exhausted his touch from carrying this batting line-up on his shoulders. West Indies won, silencing the Wankhede and a billion other voices across the length and breadth of this country.
Yet, they exuded class in victory, celebrating with compassion to the Mumbai crowd as well as for the benefit of those watching on TV screens. After all we are the same people who cheer for these players when they turn out for our respective IPL teams.
In summation then, watching a semi-final loss was excruciating. But I managed to win an OPPO F1 limited edition smartphone, that has enhanced my selfie clicking experience.
I shall call it a consolation prize.
© Cricket World 2016