World T20: Bowlers let down Team India heavily: Put into bat by the West Indies, Team India had a wonderful start by a new opening pair of Rohit Sharma (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (40), who played his first game in the tournament. Rahane had not turned ‘rusty’, warming the benches. This was very evident by the way he took charge after Sharma’s departure and notched up a well made 40 runs off 35 deliveries with a couple of boundaries.
Kohli, was his usual self going ‘hammer and tongs’ behind the bowlers and after putting up a 66-run partnership in 8.1 overs for the second wicket alongwith Ajinkya Rahane, he ended up scoring an unbeaten 89* runs off just 63 deliveries studded with 11 fours and a huge six.
With the batters coming to the party, Team India set a target of 193 runs to be achieved in 20 overs, at an asking rate of 9.65 runs per over.
It was a huge task to chase such a target but Windies would have felt a little comfortable with the ‘big man’ Chris Gayle in their rank and file. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gayle had set the stadium ‘on fire’ when West Indies took on England in their tournament opener. He had scored an unbeaten 100*, the only centurion in this tournament thus far.
However, the hopes of West Indies were short-lived, when the Indian youngster Jasprit Bumrah, bowling the second over of the innings (his first over), bowled a low full toss angling across the left-hander and swinging back in a touch. Even before Gayle could realise what was happening, his stumps were dislodged. Gayle scored 5 runs.
With the destructive batsman out of the radar, it was thought Team India could take it easy and look forward to board the flight to Kolkata for the final encounter.
Unfortunately destiny had a different story in store for them.
Lendl Simmons, who was drafted into the Playing XI, in place of Andre Fletcher, proved to be the ‘thorn in the flesh’ for Indians.
He came into bat at the fall of Marlon Samuels, with the team score reading at 19/2 in2.6 overs and remained unbeaten till the end putting on 82* runs off just 51 deliveries with 7 fours and 5 huge sixes.
Indians, who were at ease, after Gayle’s departure found the going getting tough with Simmons scoring freely and merrily.
Johnson Charles (52) and Simmons put on a 97-run partnership for the third wicket in 10.1 overs and literally took the team in sight of victory.
With 77 runs required in 41 deliveries, and Simmons going strong, Andre Russell joined the party.
The duo stayed put together till the end and put up an unbroken partnership of 80* runs in 39 deliveries to romp home.
Simmons remained unbeaten on 82* runs, Russell remained unbeaten on 43* well made runs off just 20 deliveries with 3 fours and 4 sixes.
None of the Indian bowlers could contend the West Indian batsmen who were virtually on a run-spree.
Except Aashish Nehra (4-0-1-24) all other bowlers went for an economy rate of 10+ in their quota of 4 overs each.
To add to their woes, Indian bowlers also faltered on two occasions, trying to take Lendl Simmons wicket.
The fifth delivery of the seventh over bowled by Ashwin, took the thick outside edge of Simmons’ bat and carried to the short third man position. Jasprit Bumrah, manning that area, took a stunning catch, diving low to his right.
The entire field and the stadium went up in a roar. However, on checking with the third umpire, it was found that Ashwin had breached the popping crease and was ‘no-balled’. The catching effort went a-begging and Simmons got a reprieve. West Indies were 50/2 in 6.4 overs.
The free-hit did not fetch any run since Ashwin bowled a yorker outside the off-stump and Simmons missed the line.
The final delivery of the 14th over bowled by Hardik Pandya, was a ‘friendly’ full toss under the waist-height and Simmons had slapped it flat and straight to the cover region. Ashwin, managing the area, took a ‘sitter’. The fielders and the stadium went up on a huge roar. However, on verifying with the third umpire, it was observed that Pandya had clearly ‘over-stepped’ and was no-balled.
The free hit fetched Simmons a huge six. West Indies moved on to 138/3 in 15 overs.
This was a second reprieve for Simmons, who then successfully steered his team to a seven-wicket victory and booked a berth for the final encounter against England.
For his heroics with the bat, Simmons was adjudged the Player of the Match.
At the post match presentation, Darren Sammy, skipper West Indies, said, “We knew it was going to be a massive step, against a very good India team, I must commend the whole team, we knew halfway they were 10 runs short. Even when we lost Gayle, Simmons just off the flight, he and Charles … I was just praying we win the toss, I surprised myself winning five out of five. We came here on a mission, we were inspired by the U-19 boys earlier this year, the ladies won earlier today, now we have two West Indies team in the final. We feel this is this West Indies team against everyone else. everyone said Chris is under pressure but I said it, we have 15 matchwinners. Today Charles, Simmons and Russell took that responsibility.”
Indian skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni said, “It was a bad toss to lose (because of the dew), when we started bowling … the spinners did not have much on offer, we have a history of problems when the spinners bowl with a wet ball … the only thing I am really disappointed it the two no-balls … There was not much on offer, we wanted our fast bowlers to make a game out of it at the time, the conditions were very tough … It’s a demanding format … It can be draining because a few of the games were very close, but we were up for it.”
West Indies take on England for the title clash at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, on 3rd April, 2016.