A Chris Gayle-less, but an equal and devastatingly explosive batting performance nevertheless, from the West Indies saw them beat India by seven wickets with two balls to spare in the ICC World T20 semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
West Indies batsman Lendl Simmons (right) is watched by India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he plays a shot during the World T20 semi-final match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday. Pic/AFP
When Gayle departed for five, bowled by a Jasprit Bumrah full toss) the crowd heaved a collective sigh of relief and felt it was almost impossible for the Caribbeans to chase down India's 192-2 off the remaining 18.5 overs. But that was far from the truth. Opener Johnson Charles (36-ball 52, 7x4s, 2x6s) and batsman Lendl Simmons (51-ball 82, 7x4s, 5x6s) saw the Windies tear the Indian bowling to shreds.
Two ridiculous no balls aided the Windies' chase. The first by R Ashwin, who in his first over, saw Simmons edge it to short third man and Bumrah pick a neat diving catch before the TV cameras showed the offie had overstepped.
Simmons was on 14 at the time. Then, in the 15th over, Hardik Pandya saw his full toss slammed by Simmons straight to Ashwin at cover. The catch was taken, but Pandya's overstepping meant Simmons would live again. Simmons got a third reprieve through a tough chance on the boundary off Bumrah that was held on by a falling-over-the-rope Ravindra Jadeja, who passed the catch on to Virat Kohli.
However, TV replays showed that Jadeja's foot was in contact with the boundary rope just before he passed the ball to Kohli. The Windies didn't need any more favours from fate. They hammered 20 fours and 11 sixes in a clinical show of power, ensuring at least one biggie off each of the six Indian bowlers Dhoni utilised.
Nehra, Ashwin and Kohli were hit for a six each, while Bumrah gave away two and Jadeja and Pandya were slammed thrice. Simmons found an able ally in Andre Russell (43) after Marlon Samuels (8) followed Gayle to the pavilion. Together they ensured WI strolled into the final where they meet England in Kolkata on Sunday.
Earlier, a decent batting performance clubbed with a couple of slip-ups in the field by the West Indies saw Kohli top score with a 47-ball 89 (11x4s, 1x6).
Kohli would have gone for just one had 'keeper Dinesh Ramdin or Dwayne Bravo hit the stumps when he tried to sneak a bye. But Kohli survived and together with Dhoni, put on what seemed like a match-wining 64-run stand off just 27 balls, after openers Rohit Sharma (43 off 31 balls, 3x4s, 3x6s) and Ajinkya Rahane (35-ball 40, 2x4s), replacing Shikhar Dhawan in the side, had got the hosts off to a flier.
India: 192/2 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 89 not out, Rohit Sharma 43, Ajinkya Rahane 40; Samuel Badree 1/26).
West Indies: 196/3 in 19.4 overs (Lendl Simmons 83 not out, Johnson Charles 52, Andre Russell 43 not out; Ashish