The match in a tweet: STUNNING! West Indies to meet England in #WT20 final after Simmons, Dre Russ chase down 193 FTW! Kohli masterclass in vain as hosts out!
The hero: Having only been in the country since Monday after getting an 11th hour SOS to replace injured batsman Andre Fletcher, Lendl Simmons delivered the performance of his life to rescue the West Indies and propel them into the World T20 final. It was not an innings without luck – three times the right-hander was spared – but he made the most of his opportunities and with each boundary slowly chipped away at the imposing target of 193. It took six balls for Simmons to launch his first of five maximums – each blow silencing the capacity Wankhede Stadium crowd. As the game came down to the wire, Simmons was ably assisted by Andre Russell, the allrounder blasting 49 from 21 balls in a partnership worth 80 runs in 6.3 overs. Simmons' unbeaten 51-ball 82 overshadowed Virat Kohli's incredible innings and sent the Windies through to their second World T20 final.
The Virat Show: How do you stop Virat Kohli? In the second innings of limited-overs cricket he has no equal. It's partly why Darren Sammy elected to send India in so he wouldn't have to give Kohli a target to hunt. It didn't work. After a nervy start where he should have been run-out three times in two balls, the 27-year-old steeled himself to produce an innings of pure class in the pressure cooker of a World T20 semi-final. Following the run-out calamity which is detailed below, Kohli somehow outdid his stunning performance against Australia in the virtual quart-final against in Mohali. While he might not be the biggest batsman wielding some willow, what he lacks in strength he makes up with speed and smarts. Kohli sprinted 19 singles and 10 twos which left the packed Wankhede crowd exhausted just watching. Eleven of his 12 boundaries found the turf before crossing the rope, all traditional cricket strokes played with rubber wrists. He garnered 30 runs from his final 12 balls – 18 coming from the five balls he faced against the Mohawk-clad Russell in the penultimate over. And just to prove he could do it all, he then came on and took a wicket with his first ball of the tournament. However, even he couldn't stop the Windies juggernaut when he was oddly called on to bowl the final over of the match...
The supporting cast: With the Gayle-force in the sheds after only seven balls, Johnson Charles took up the mantle of navigating the run chase, and a fine job he did. Charles had no problem with Gayle's conqueror, hitting the stiff-armed Jaspit Bumrah for two boundaries in the fourth over. India's spinners have troubled the best in the world but they were no match for Charles, who dispatched Ravi Ashwin over the rope and then into it, and then repeated the dose the next over the medium pacer Hardik Pandya. Charles put on 92 for the third wicket with Simmons before his fabulous knock came to an end on an even 50.
The let-offs: Simmons had three huge slices of luck. The first was when he was on 18 was brilliantly caught at short third-man by Bumrah, but off-spinner Ashwin committed the cardinal sin of overstepping. The reprieve cost a rapid 32 runs before the second slice of good fortune arrived in the same form as the first. This time it was Hardik Pandya who failed to have any part of his foot behind the popping crease when Simmons spooned a full-toss to Ashwin at cover. And if it wasn't Groundhog Day already, for the third time in his innings, Simmons was walking off thinking he was dismissed only to be called back when replays showed Jadeja touched the rope when completing a catch on the boundary.
The Gayle dismissal: Chasing 193 to win, the Windies hopes rested on the broad shoulders of Chris Gayle. Starting his innings with restraint, Gayle watched Ashish Nehra's first and third balls to him through to the 'keeper, but couldn't resist a tentative poke a ball No.2 which found the edge and bounced over the stumps. Ball four was in his wheelhouse and he muscled a short delivery to the mid-wicket fence for four. A gentle tuck to the leg-side completed Nehra's first over, but that would be Gayle's last scoring stroke and the second to last ball he would face. Gayle's last ball was Bumrah's first and it changed the course of the game. Bumrah's unique action, one with a bowling arm so straight it can never be accused of being illegal, found a hint of swing to curl his full toss past Gayle's tree trunk of a bat and into the yawning gap between bat and pad and into the base of the off-stump.
The double blunder: This is a hard one to describe, so bear with me. Dwayne Bravo bowls a terrific, deceptive, looping slower ball that Kohli plays all around and just misses leg-stump. Confused, probably because it's the first ball he hasn't middled all tournament, Kohli starts running down the wicket while the ball is in wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin's possession. The gloveman sees the batsman halfway down the wicket, underams the ball and misses the off-stump by millimetres. On his follow through, Bravo collects the ball as Kohli retreats, goes the underarm option too, and misses the leg-stump by millimetres! Oh, and did I mention this was a free hit? It was a free hit! And just to make sure luck was on his side, Kohli should have been run-out the following ball scampering back for a second only for Ramdin to fumble the return from deep square-leg.
The shot: The 290th six of the World T20 was one of the biggest – a 99 metre swipe by West Indies and Sydney Thunder allrounder Andre Russell. Hardik Pandya was the unfortunate bowler, who stood aghast as he watched his delivery get manhandled into the top tier of the Sachin Tendulkar Stand which looms over cow corner. It wasn't the biggest maximum of the tournament – Australia's Mitchell Marsh and Charles each own a 101m hit.
The wash-up: India, the tournament hosts and competition favourites, are out. The West Indies now face England in the final on Sunday in Kolkata. The two teams met in the Super 10 phase, with Gayle scoring an unbeaten 100 to secure the victory.
The press conference: Unbelievable scenes in the post-match press conference, when a simply question about the future in Twenty20 cricket for India's 34-year-old captain MS Dhoni resulted in cricket.com.au journalist Sam Ferris invited on stage for a good natured private discussion with the skipper. Perhaps pre-planned by Dhoni, who no doubt would have expected the quesiton at some stage, it nevertheless provided an entertaining end and a light-hearted moment on a downbeat evening for India's supporters.
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