October 26, 2016

West Indies stun India to reach World T20 final

West Indies batsman Lendl Simmons plays a shot during the World T20 semi-final between India and West Indies at The Wankhede Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday. AFP

It is as good as a fairytale for Lendl Simmons. The Mumbai Indians batsman was not even in the West Indies squad for the World T20.

Only an injury to Andre Fletcher made the team recall him for a match on a ground he is very familiar with. Well, he made it certain the management brag of this decision.

The right-handed batsman smashed an unbeaten 82 off 51 balls on Thursday as West Indies chased down India’s huge total of 192 to book their place in the final. It was indeed his day. Twice he got out and on both occasions those deliveries were ruled as ‘no balls’.

But credit where credit is due, despite losing Chris Gayle and one-down Marlon Samuels on 19, it’s Simmons who made the Caribbean dream.

With Johnson Charles, who hit a great 52 off 36 balls, Simmons made 97 in the third-wicket partnership to keep his team in the game and the rest was done by Andre Russell.

At a time when Simmons looked tired – he later said he slept through the whole flight – Russell smashed 43 off just 20 balls with three fours and four sixes to steer the Windies home.

Simmons was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his wonderful knock, crafted with seven fours and five sixes.

The win took the gloss off a magnificent 89 from Virat Kohli who led the Indians to 192/2.

In-form Kohli hit 11 fours and a six in his buoyant 47-ball innings after Windies skipper Darren Sammy invited India to bat first winning the toss.

The opening partnership of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane fetched 62 runs to give the Indians the start they wanted. Rohit slammed 43 in 31 balls thanks to three fours and the same number of sixes, while Rahane, brought to the squad in place of out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan, hit 40 off 35 deliveries.

After the fall of Rohit, Kohli took things in his hand, frustrating the bowlers with his shots.

The Indians got lucky on a number of occasions though, as the West Indies team displayed some awful fielding.

But in the end, Simmons and Russell stole the show as the 2012 champions go to Sunday’s final where they will face 2010’s winners – England. It was a special day for the Caribbean side, as their women’s team also sealed a place in the final early on the day.

Can they dream of a better day? Sunday holds the answer.

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