MBAI: Two days ago, Chris Gayle joked that he wouldn’t mind another fifty to Virat Kohli so long as it came in a losing cause. Twenty overs into the semi-final between India and West Indies on Thursday, it appeared that India had done plenty right on the back of – who else? – but the red-hot Kohli, whose unbeaten 89 from 47 balls helped them to 192/2. At the end of a high-octane match, it was Gayle who was part of a raucous West Indian celebrations near the boundary line after the underdogs stunned India with a seven-wicket win with two balls remaining.
Taking them over the line was Lendl Simmons, whose first appearance of the tournament produced a match-winning 82 not out off 51 balls. Who writes this man’s scripts?
When Gayle missed a full toss and was bowled for five in the first ball of the second over, India were overjoyed. Moment later Marlon Samuels spooned Ashish Nehra to extra cover and West Indies were 19/2. That this game was not extinguished owed to Johnson Charles and Simmons. Charles heaved and thrashed during a 36-ball 52 that held seven fours and two sixes and Simmons, who was reprieved off an R Ashwin no-ball on 18, used the first of several lives to punish India.
Both batsmen attacked India’s spinners, driving and cutting with panache. Hardik Pandya’s decision to bounce Charles proving costly, with the batsman top-edging six to third man and hammering four to fine leg with stunning fluency. With Simmons tucking into the wayward Ravindra Jadeja, the stand surged to 97 in ten overs when Dhoni tossed the ball to Kohli. Immediately the man of the moment had a wicket, as Charles miscued to long-off.
Enter Russell, who smoked Pandya past mid-off and deposited a six into the stands. Bumrah had two overs left when Dhoni beckoned him to bowl the 16th. Barring the third and sixth deliveries, which went to third man for four and into the sight screen for six off Simmon’s bat, the youngster conceded three singles. Nehra kept his wits to bowl a good 17th over that cost ten, meaning he bowled out with a very respectable 1/25 in four.
The crucial over was the 18th, bowled by Bumrah. Three dots balls were followed by a chance to deep midwicket, except replays showed that Jadeja touched the boundary line as he attempted to parry the ball inside. Simmons had another life.
With luck on his side, he took four off the last ball off Bumrah to move to 81, and then looked on as Russell swatted Jadeja into the front of the media centre for six. That left the batsmen to get eight from six balls, and two big hits by Russell (43*) off Kohli cleared the West Indies dug out and sparked mad scenes of celebration.
This was somewhat difficult to comprehend after Kohli’s innings had powered India to 192/2.
Flipped into the role of laying a platform rather than chasing a target, Kohli finished what Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane started – both made pretty forties – with his seventh T20I fifty of the year. Rohit and Rahane, playing in place of Shikhar Dhawan, gave India a platform from where Kohli could launch: a stand of 62 in 7.2 overs, India’s highest T20I opening stand in 11 games.
When Kohli walked out from the dugout twirling his bat above his head, Rahane was 17 off 14 balls. When Rahane fell for 40 off 35 balls after adding 66 runs in 49 balls, Kohli had sped to 41 off 29 balls with typical smart cricket. From here, he launched seven fours and a six in his next 18 balls faced to finish on 89, scoring 48 out of the 79 that came when Dhoni (15) was with him. West Indies had two chances to him out with a single run on the board, but Denesh Ramdin and Dwayne Bravo missed the stumps off the same delivery. Kohli ended the over by slashing Bravo wide of short third man for four and was away. His aggressive approach was what India needed, because though his urgency between the wickets – the pair collected nine doubles – was superb, Rahane could not find the boundaries.
With five-and-a-half overs to go, Dhoni sauntered in and paddled his second ball for four, but it was Kohli who had the fans swooning when he collected ten runs in three balls: a wristy pull followed by a sprinted two and which edge to third man. Two more fours of a hapless Bravo in the 18th over – a flat-batted pull and a gorgeous drive wide of mid-off – had the stadium chanting and then Russell conceded 19 from the 19th, with Kohli hitting a six and two fours. Bravo closed out the innings with a decent last over, but more excellence between the wickets got India to a big total.
Courtesy : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/