West Indies power-hit their way to World T20 final

West Indies 196 for 3 (Simmons 82*, Charles 52) beat India 192 for 2 (Kohli 89*, Rohit 43) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Highlights – WI gun down 193 to make WT20 final

A man who was caught off a no-ball twice beat a man who should have been run out twice off a free hit. That was how comical – and spectacular – this World T20 semi-final was. And the ultimate gag was that Virat Kohli‘s 89 not out off 47 balls was nothing short of a batting clinic, but Lendl Simmons 82 not out off 51 balls led a West Indian demolition job that left India’s chances of winning another title at home in the rubble.

A target of 193 wouldn’t have frightened Darren Sammy. He has been talking up Chris Gayle all through the World T20, but seven balls into the chase, he might have felt nervous. His kingpin was clean bowled by Jasprit Bumrah and Marlon Samuels, who won this very trophy with one of the finest displays of batsmanship, went away without a peep. West Indies were 19 for 2, already the required rate had hit double-digits and the men they had in the middle were Johnson Charles, who accumulates dot balls like his partner Simmons, who had arrived in India only on Tuesday, had accumulated air miles.

Two of the most unheralded batsmen in this power-packed line up hit one boundary an over until the 14th – which Kohli himself bowled and got rid of Charles with a juicy long-hop. That over, bowled by a part-timer, was the least expensive of the chase stamping this game as laugh-out-loud madness.

And through it all West Indies “just believed.” India, though, was wavering. Not least because they seemed completely incapable of getting Simmons out. R Ashwin had him caught at short third man in the seventh over, but he had also overstepped. In the 15th, Hardik Pandya had him caught at extra cover but his front foot had strayed as well. The ensuing free hit was smashed over the midwicket boundary and West Indies went into the final five overs needing only 55 to win.

Now the mathlets would work out that is still an asking rate of 10 an over, but the West Indian batsmen are uber jocks. Their mis-hits go for boundaries, and some of Andre Russell‘s indeed did. So when he did hit them off the middle, the bowlers had no chance. It was an innings – and a setting – that suited him to a T, much like his Mr T hairstyle. Russell’s first six came off the fourth ball he faced – and when the ball was soaring into the night sky, it seemed like it would clear the entire stadium and his final one sealed the match with seven balls to spare.

India did have a chance though, even amid the carnage. The 18th over began with Bumrah bowling three superb slower balls to earn a hat-trick of dots. West Indies now needed 32 off 14 and Simmons knew he had to make up the difference. The next ball was length and it was launched over the legside. Ravindra Jadeja tracked it from deep midwicket, and it appeared he had pulled off a blinder on the edge of the wide long-on boundary. Only he was too close to the rope. Although he had tossed the ball to – who else – Kohli in a desperate attempt at a relay catch, the tip of Jadeja’s boot had touched the advertising skirting when he first made contact with the ball. Sammy likened his team to David in the pre-match press conference, but their success tonight was right from Goliath’s playbook.

Eventually, it was logical that the most powerful batting line-up won on a featherbed of a track, with dew also coming into play. Kohli, though, has been defying every kind of logic on a cricket field – the law of averages and strike-rates to name two. The 82 not out against Australia to get to the semi-final was a masterclass. The 89 not out here was transcendent, partly because when he came in, he looked incredibly suspect.

He could have been run-out off a free hit delivery. He was brought into the attack to bowl – when West Indies’ batsmen were getting off double-digit overs – and struck first ball when Charles thumped a short ball straight to long-off. Quite apart from how he plays proper cricketing shots and still thrives in the hit-and-giggle format, even the mistakes he makes are barely believable.

Simply sample this: he was not out for a second knockout match in a row in a World Cup – that means he averages 136.50. He hit only one six, and yet his strike rate was a befuddling 189.36. Kohli came to the Wankhede stadium having struck more runs than the rest of the Indian top-five combined, and he finishes so too.

Full report to follow

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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