By Aritra Chowdhury
Mumbai– Star batsmen Lendl Simmons smashed an unbeaten 83 alongside Johnson Charles’s 52 as a spirited West Indian side chased down a challenging total to outclass India by seven wickets in the second semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday to enter the final of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament.
Batting first, India posted a competitive total of 192/2 in 20 overs, thanks to Virat Kohli’s 89.
In reply, a brave Windies side chased down the total posting 196/3 in 19.4 overs, thanks to Simmons’ 51-ball 83 and Charles’ 36-ball 52.
West Indies will now face England, who earlier beat New Zealand in the first semis on Wednesday, in the final at the Eden Gardens on April 3.
Chasing a challenging target of 194, West Indies got off to a worst possible start losing hard-hitting opener Chris Gayle (5) in the second over. Young pacer Jasprit Bumrah cleaned the left-handed batsman to have West Indies at 6/1.
As his opening partner Johnson Charles and incoming batsman Marlon Samuels (8) were looking to build a partnership after the first wicket, veteran Indian pacer Ashish Nehra struck in the third over to send Samuels back to the pavilion and leave the Windies struggling at 19/2.
But next up, Charles and Simmons used their experience to good effect and score at a good pace to bring up 50-run partnership for the third wicket in just 34 balls and help team post 84/2 in 10 overs.
But Charles, soon after he brought up his third T20I half-century in just 30 balls was sent back to the pavilion by none other than skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s surprise package bowler Kohli. The 97-run partnership for the third wicket was finally broken which helped India make a comeback into the game.
Set batsman Simmons, who was caught twice off two balls, eventually brought his fifty up in just 37 balls to keep Windies alive in the game.
From there on, Andre Russell (43 not out off 20 balls) and Simmons remained unbeaten to steer their team to a triumph.
Earlier put into bat, openers Rohit Sharma (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (40) got India off to a flying start scoring 55 runs without losing a wicket in the powerplay.
But as Rohit was cruising after striking three boundaries and three sixes, leg-spinner Samuel Badree brought the much-needed breakthrough, dismissing him leg before wicket to have India at 62/1 in 7.2 overs.
Incoming in-form batsman Kohli along with Rahane played sensibly, stealing quick singles, twos, and a couple of boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking and help team reach 86/1 in 10 overs.
But as the home side was cruising to take on the Windies bowlers, Russell struck in the 16th over to dismiss Rahane and have India at 128/2.
Next up, Dhoni (15 not out) who promoted himself up the batting order gave good support to Kohli as the duo piled on some useful runs with boundaries and sixes at regular intervals to bring up an unbeaten 64-run partnership for the third wicket and thus help the team post a competitive total.
Badree (1-26) was the pick of the bowlers for West Indies.
Brief scores: India 192/2 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 89 not out, Rohit Sharma 43, Ajinkya Rahane 40; Samuel Badree 1-26, Andre Russell 1-47) vs West Indies 196/3 in 19.4 overs (Lendl Simmons 83 not out, Johnson Charles 52; Virat Kohli 1-15, Ashish Nehra 1-25, Jasprit Bumrah 1-42)