West Indies stuns India, enters final

An unbeaten 82 by Lendl Simmons saw West Indies defeat the host at the Wankhede Stadium.

Lendl Simmons... star of West Indies's stunning victory.   -  Vivek Bendre

Virat Kohli... great knock went in vain.   -  Vivek Bendre

It is always said that there is a thin line between winning and losing. In a format as fickle as Twenty20, the line invariably becomes thinner than the thinnest. And, when India found itself on the wrong side of the line, not once but thrice, the fact that its quest to lift the World Twenty20 title came to an end was all but given. > Highlights: West Indies beats India

On all three occasions during India’s semifinal against the West Indies, > Lendl Simmons was the beneficiary. And it was fitting that the seasoned batsman, playing his first game of the tournament after coming into the squad two days ago as Andre Fletcher’s replacement, made the most of three lives to stay on till the very end when Andre Russell hoicked > Virat Kohli into the stands deep into the on-side with two balls to spare.

 

The first instance of the luck going Simmons’ way came in the seventh over of the West Indies’ chase of 193, a tough ask even on a flat deck at the Wankhede Stadium, considering the magnitude of the occasion. R. Ashwin bowled one wide of off-stump; Simmons, then on 18, slashed only to top-edge it and Jasprit Bumrah, who had earlier crashed through Chris Gayle’s defence, dived in front to complete the catch. Three-fourth of his walk on the way to the dressing room, however, Simmons was told to go back by the dug-out as TV replays concluded Ashwin had overstepped the line. > Simmons: Every cricketer has his day and today was mine

> SECOND SEMINFINAL IN PICTURES

Cut to the 15th over. Despite losing Johnson Charles to the golden arm of Kohli — the opener stood out despite losing the key wicket of Gayle early on in the chase — Simmons, playing at his IPL homeground, and Russell had kept the West Indies in the game. With 62 runs required off 31 balls, Hardik Pandya who had been taken to the cleaners in his 23 balls till then, decided to change the angle to bowl the last ball of his spell and went around the wicket. It turned out to be a full-toss but Simmons mistimed it and the ball lobbed to Ashwin at covers. Wait, the umpires check for a no-ball and again, it turned out to be a no-ball.

As if that was not enough, the trilogy of the line belonging to Simmons was completed in the 18th over. Ashish Nehra had been bowled out and Bumrah was bowling his last over. The first three dot balls resulted in Simmons going for a cross-batted heave off the fourth; the ball went flying towards the cow corner; Ravindra Jadeja, running in from deep square caught it and released it as he was balancing over the fence and Kohli caught it. Still no luck for India! The replays showed Jadeja’s foot had touched the boundary rope only by a whisker. But that was enough for what could have been a dismissal to be converted into a six.

The Indians were consistently ending on the wrong side of the line. But they had only themselves to blame for not handling the key moments well enough.

KOHLI'S MAGNIFICENT KNOCK

The bowlers’ slip-ups resulted in overshadowing what was yet another magnificent display of batsmanship from Virat Kohli. In fact, for the very first time, the Indian batting clicked as a unit, with all three pairs that batted ended up adding at least 50 runs on the board. Kohli took the cake by smashing his second-highest individual score in T20Is.

No team has won a Twenty20 international at the Wankhede Stadium after losing the toss. India made a strong case to reverse the trend, thanks to a cohesive top-order effort led by the unstoppable Kohli, by putting on a mammoth 192 for two.

India began the evening by springing a surprise. Not by including Manish Pandey in place of the injured Yuvraj Singh but by roping in Ajinkya Rahane in struggling Shikhar Dhawan’s place. The move came as a surprise since Rahane had been warming the bench all through the league stage.

The Mumbai batsman did his role to perfection by holding on to one end and let Sharma and Kohli take the attack to the opposition. After a relatively sedate start, Sharma took on Russell in the last of the Powerplay overs. The stylish batsman pulled a high full-toss over backward square and followed it up with a lofted six to the right of the sight screen off what was a free hit. The over yielded 20 runs, resulting in India’s best Powerplay total of the tournament with 55 for no loss.

When Sharma was trapped in front of the wickets by Samuel Badree just when he was set to cut loose, in came Kohli, in the eighth over. This was the latest he was taking guard in the tournament but he was in such stupendous form that at the end of the innings, Kohli had not only registered his highest score in WT20s but found himself just one run short of his personal best of 90 in T20Is.

The secret of India’s huge total did not lay in the 17 fours and four sixes the four batsmen combined but the number of ones and twos the batsmen ran. That the innings saw only 26 dot balls speaks a lot about the manner in which the Indians sprinted between wickets. The last over also elucidated it, with Dhoni and Kohli — whose unbeaten 27-ball 64-run association saw just one dot ball — adding 12 runs on the board despite hitting just one boundary.

In the end, all that mattered to nought as the West Indies booked a flight to Kolkata for Sunday’s summit clash.

> Full Scoreboard and Ball-by-Ball-details