Windies break Indian hearts

Windies break Indian hearts

Simmons hammers sizzling 82 not out as Sammy's men set up England date in final

Windies break Indian hearts

Chris Gayle didn’t fire in a big chase but that didn’t stop West Indies from gate-crashing into India’s home party.

In pursuit of India’s massive 192/2, built largely on the back of Virat Kohli’s imperious innings (89 n.o., 47b, 11x4, 1x6), West Indies lost their talisman in the second over of their innings but Johnson Charles (52, 36b, 7x4, 2x6) and a fortuitous Lendl Simmons (82 n.o., 51b, 7x4, 5x6) hauled their innings back in spectacular fashion to knock India out of the World T20 here on Thursday.

Andre Russell too played a little gem (43 n.o., 3x4, 4x6) as the Caribbeans coasted to 196 in 19.4 overs for a seven-wicket win. West Indies will now play England in Sunday’s final in Kolkata.

Windies’ victory was as much a result of visitors’ power-house batting as it was to do with India’s largesse. Before Simmons, who had come into this match after replacing Andre Fletcher, went on to play a match-winning innings, he was given two lives on personal scores of 18 and 50. He was out off R Ashwin on the first occasion, but on review, it turned out to be a no-ball. Hardik Pandya had dismissed the right-hander on the second time, again off a no-ball.

On a surface like that, with dew making bowlers’ life no easy, India needed to be more disciplined against a this batting line-up.

Even as the West Indians set off for wild celebrations, one had to feel for Kohli, who after playing another innings of pure class, gave a window of hope for the hosts by removing Charles and ending a 97-run stand (62 balls).

Earlier, India sprang a surprise by effecting two changes to their playing 11; Manish Pandey took injured Yuvraj Singh’s place while Ajinkya Rahane replaced Shikhar Dhawan.

It wasn’t a move fraught without any danger. Had the new opening pair — Rohit Sharma (43, 31b) and Rahane — failed to click, the team management would have looked silly but the two Mumbaikars provided India the best start in 11 matches despite managing just six runs in the first two overs.

Rahane largely remained a spectator during that partnership even as Rohit stepped on the gas, launching Carlos Brathwaite over long-on at the start of third over. The real push, however, came in the sixth over bowled by Andre Russell. The first ball was hooked over backward square leg for six. The delivery was declared no-ball for height. Rohit lifted the free hit over straight boundary for another maximum before he rounded it off with a pulled four to mid-wicket. The 20-run over gave India the desired start they were hoping for on a batting beauty.

Rohit couldn’t build on his brisk start but Kohli continued his rich vein of form. The question mark over the right-hander’s performance while batting first as against during chasing isn’t without justification. He had averaged fewer than 36 while setting up totals before this knock. While quite a few top batsmen will be happy to take it as their career average in T20s, it fails miserably when compared to Kohli’s 91.80 while chasing targets.

Kohli, who at one stage was 16 off 14 balls, eventually finished with a staggering strike rate of almost 190 but yet his innings wasn’t about mindless slogging. Once again, he collected a major chunk of his runs in singles and twos (29 to be precise) while he ran 11 of MS Dhoni’s runs towards the end when the frenetic running between the wickets by the two left the West Indies fielders in a daze and the capacity crowd spell bound.

At the end of 13th over India, 133/2 at this stage, were expected to finish around 175 which was no more than a par score on this surface. But with Kohli around, that target kept revising.

As many as 59 of their 64-run partnership for the unbroken third-wicket stand, came in the last four overs with Kohli alone scoring 49 of those runs through a combination of hard running and crisp boundaries.

India would have thought they had enough on the board for their bowlers to defend it but West Indies proved why they are the most dangerous T20 side with a performance that stunned the capacity crowd into silence.

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