MUMBAI, India, CMC – West Indies crushed the hopes of a billion Indians when they produced a magnificent run chase to stun the home side by seven wickets and clinch a place in Sunday’s final of the Twenty20 World Cup.
Entering Thursday’s semi-final as the underdogs against tournament favourites India, the Caribbean side silenced the full house at the Wankhede Stadium by overhauling an imposing target of 193 with two balls to spare, in a riveting encounter.
They were propelled by half-centuries from Lendl Simmons who carved out an exhilarating, career-best unbeaten 82 and opener Johnson Charles, who belted an aggressive 52, while Andre Russell weighed in with a whirlwind unbeaten 43.
Stumbling at 19 for two in the third over after losing key players Chris Gayle (5) and Marlon Samuels (8), West Indies recovered through the trio’s efforts to reach 84 for two at the half-way stage, before plundering 112 runs off the last 58 balls of the innings.
Requiring eight runs from the final over bowled by part-time medium pacer Virat Kohli, West Indies managed just a run from the first two deliveries but Russell tugged the third ball to the mid-wicket boundary before clearing the ropes at wide long-on, to spark celebrations among the visitors.
Simmons, who only arrived here from the Caribbean earlier this week to replace the injured Andre Fletcher, faced 51 deliveries and struck seven fours and five sixes.
Living a charmed life, he survived three chances to anchor two key partnerships, putting on 97 for the third wicket with Charles before adding a further 80 in an unbroken fourth wicket stand with Russell.
Charles played a blinder, cracking seven fours and two sixes off 36 deliveries while Russell flaunted his brute strength in belting three fours and four sixes off a mere 20 balls.
With the win, West Indies set up a meeting in the final in Kolkata against England, who they beat in their opening game of the preliminaries.
West Indies also emulated their women’s team who had earlier beat New Zealand Women by six runs in their semi-final at the Wankhede, to reach the final.
Earlier, the in-form Kohli top-scored with an unbeaten 89 as India raced to 192 for two off their 20 overs, after they were sent in.
Openers Rohit Sharma (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (40) put on 62 for the first wicket before Kohli arrived to marshal the latter half of the innings.
He crunched 11 fours and a six off 47 balls and added 56 for the second wicket with Rahane before dominating an unbroken third wicket stand of 64 with captain MS Dhoni who was unbeaten on 15.
India scored freely in the opening overs with Sharma smashing three fours and three sixes off 31 balls and Rahane giving support with a 35-ball knock that included two fours.
Rohit pummelled 20 runs from Russell’s second over, the fifth of the innings, but missed one from leg-spinner Samuel Badree that came on with the arm and was lbw in the eighth over.
His dismissal paved the way for Kohli who dominated the Windies bowling en route to his 16th T20 International half-century.
He had scored just one when he was almost run out twice off the same delivery, attempting to steal a bye but wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin missed a throw at the stumps and bowler Dwayne Bravo also missed with the follow up throw. Kohli capitalised on his good fortune to storm to his fifty off 33 balls.
He took centre stage as India gathered 65 runs from the last five overs.
Asked to score at just over nine-and-a-half runs per over, West Indies were stunned in the second over when Gayle was bowled by a low, swinging full toss from seamer Jasprit Bumrah which hit the base of off stump.
Samuels struck two boundaries in the same over but perished in the next over from left-armer Ashish Nehra, backing away and needlessly scooping a simple catch to mid-off.
With the Windies in need of a jump start, Simmons and Charles reignited the innings with superb batting to keep their side in touch with the required run rate.
Charles took a couple of boundaries from Bumrah’s next over and then got stuck into off-spinner Ravi Ashwin, taking 13 runs from his second over – the ninth of the innings.
He reached his third T20I half-century off 30 balls with a boundary to long-off off medium pacer Hardik Pandya but departed soon after in the 14th over when he swatted at the first ball of Kohli’s first over and holed out to Rohit running in from long off.
Simmons, meanwhile, rode his luck en route to his fifth T20I half-century. On 18 in the seventh over, he cut Ashwin to short third man where Bumrah came up with a diving catch only for replays to reveal a no-ball.
Then astonishingly in the 15th over with India badly in need of a wicket, Simmons thumped a full toss from Pandya to Ashwin at cover, off another no-ball, to be let off on 50. He smacked the resulting free hit out of the ground to add insult to injury, as the over leaked 18 runs.
With tensions rising in the 18th over, Simmons was given yet another reprieve when he struck Bumrah to long only for Jadeja to pouch the catch but step on the ropes in the process. Unfazed, the right-hander kept picking off boundaries with authentic cricket shots through the off side and straight down the ground.
At the other end, it was all brawn and bluster from Russell and it was he who eased the tension, with 20 runs required from two overs.
West Indies had managed just two runs from the first four balls but the Jamaican smashed left-arm Jadeja straight for six before following up with a sensational loft over cover for four, as 12 runs gushed from the over.
INDIA 192 for two off 20 overs (Virat Kohli 89 not out, Rohit Sharma 43, Ajinkya Rahane 40)
WEST INDIES 196 for three off 19.4 overs (Lendl Simmons 82 not out, Johnson Charles 52, Andre Russell 43 not out)
R Sharma lbw b Badree 43
A Rahane c Bravo b Russell 40
V Kohli not out 89
*+M Dhoni not out 15
Extras (lb1, w2, nb2) 5
TOTAL (2 wkts, 20 overs) 192
Did not bat: S Raina, M Pandey, H Pandya, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, J Bumrah, A Nehra.
Fall of wickets: 1-62 (Sharma, 7.2 overs), 2-128 (Rahane, 15.3)
Bowling: Russell 4-0-47-1 (w1, nb1), Badree 4-0-26-1 (w1), Brathwaite 4-0-38-0, Benn 4-0-36-0, Bravo 4-0-44-0 (nb1).
J Charles c Sharma b Kohli 52
C Gayle b Bumrah 5
M Samuels c Rahane b Nehra 8
L Simmons not out 82
A Russell not out 43
Extras (lb4, nb2) 6
TOTAL (3 wkts, 19.4 overs) 196
Did not bat: +D Ramdin, D Bravo, *D Sammy, C Brathwaite, S Badree, S Benn.
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Gayle, 1.1 overs), 2-19 (Samuels, 3), 3-116 (Charles, 13.1)
Bowling: Nehra 4-0-24-1, Bumrah 4-0-42-1, Jadeja 4-0-48-0, Ashwin 2-0-20-0 (nb1), Pandya 4-0-43-0 (nb1), Kohli 1.4-0-15-1.
Result: West Indies won by seven wickets.
Series: West Indies advanced to final.
Man-of-the-Match: Lendl Simmons.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: R Illingworth, N Llong; TV – P Reiffel.